Rangers 1-0 Aberdeen: Kemar Roofe turns substitution jeers to Ibrox cheers with crucial goal for champions

Perhaps Rangers supporters will now accept that Giovanni van Bronckhorst might just know what he’s doing when it comes to substitutions.

Kemar Roofe celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 during a Cinch Premiership match between Rangers and Aberdeen at Ibrox Stadium, on March 05, 2022, in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Kemar Roofe celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 during a Cinch Premiership match between Rangers and Aberdeen at Ibrox Stadium, on March 05, 2022, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Berated in midweek when he declined to use any in the narrow win at St Johnstone, the Rangers manager was subjected to huge groans of disapproval here when he chose to replace fans’ favourite Alfredo Morelos with Kemar Roofe in the closing stages of an equally nervy clash with Aberdeen.

Just three minutes after Roofe’s introduction, there was a very different mood inside Ibrox when the Jamaican international forward plundered the only goal of the game.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

It was Roofe’s 12th goal of the season and potentially as crucial as any he will score. Rangers could scarcely afford more dropped points in a title race which has now seen them draw level with Celtic at the top of the table ahead of their Old Firm rivals’ trip to Livingston on Sunday.

Rangers celebrate 150 years during a Cinch Premiership match between Rangers and Aberdeen at Ibrox on March 5, 2022. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Roofe’s contribution also ensured a big day for the Scottish champions did not fall flat as they formally marked their 150th anniversary.

The game itself was a grind but Rangers can expect plenty more like it in the title run-in. It’s all about getting the job done for van Bronckhorst at this stage of the campaign. How victory is achieved is of secondary significance.

Rangers’ biggest problem in recent league matches had been their failure to convert a sufficient number of the myriad chances they were creating.

On this occasion, they found manufacturing the opportunities far more difficult to do against an Aberdeen side who successfully closed them down in midfield and prevented meaningful supply of the ball on the flanks.

Alfredo Morelos heads clear. He was later replaced by goalscorer Roofe. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

After the fireworks and giant banner displays before kick-off, the first half was pretty much a non-event as Rangers struggled to find any attacking fluency whatsoever.

Aside from an early shot from Alfredo Morelos which drifted wide of Joe Lewis’s left hand post and a Glen Kamara drive into the penalty area which forced an anxious clearance via the goalkeeper’s right hand upright, there was little to trouble the visitors’ defence.

There was a greater tempo about Rangers after the break, although it initially made no great impact in ruffling the feathers of a resolute Dons’ defence.

Fashion Sakala, whose lack of composure at crucial moments is evident far too often, wasted a good chance in the 57th minute when he blazed over after being perfectly set up by Joe Aribo’s knockdown.

Rangers celebrate 150th birthday with a fan display before kick-off against Aberdeen. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

It was a measure of the poor overall standard of play that it took until the 71st minute for the first effort on target to be recorded, Lewis comfortably gathering a low shot from the industrious Ryan Jack.

Frustration was growing inside the ground, while the pocket of travelling Aberdeen fans were growing in confidence of witnessing a third consecutive draw against Rangers this season.

But van Bronckhorst had an ace up his sleeve in the 78th minute. On came Roofe, off went Morelos to that chorus of dissent from the home fans.

Three minutes later, it was bedlam when Rangers’ persistence finally paid off. Glen Kamara dug out a cross from the left which the tireless James Tavernier headed towards goal. Inside a crowded six yard box, Roofe got the crucial touch to keep his team’s title hopes very much alive.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.