LIVE FOOTBALL: Aberdeen vs Rangers… Ryan Kent fires visitors ahead with cool finish as Steven Gerrard makes fast start in bid to halt Celtic’s march to 10 in a row
- Ryan Kent calmly puts Rangers ahead with Alfredo Morelos claiming the assist
- Rangers meet Aberdeen in the first game of the Scottish Premiership season
- Steven Gerrard’s side begin their effort to deny Celtic a 10th straight title
Rangers travel to Aberdeen as the Scottish Premiership kicks off again with a tasty opening fixture.
Steven Gerrard’s side ultimate aim this season will be to prevent rivals Celtic from achieving a 10th consecutive league title.
But despite winning all their pre-season games, their journey begins in earnest at Pittodrie, where Rangers drew 2-2 last time out against Derek McInnes’ European hopefuls.
Sportsmail will have live updates of the Scottish Premiership fixture, with team news, live scores and more.
Now it is Hagi at the other end to try from outside the box, but after Ferguson concedes possession, Lewis bails him out by saving low down to his left.
First strike on goal from the hosts, but Ojo’s shot is easily held by McGregor, who has so far been by-stander,
Hagi has started the game well here but he gets this one all wrong, trying to backheel the ball into a team-mate but ends up making no connection and the counter-attack breaks down.
Aribo shows a good deal of strength for an extremely dominant Rangers here, and from the Barisic delivery, which is on the moneyl, the ball ends up in Lewis’ arms following an Aribo header.
A composed finish from Ryan Kent, who has time to run through on goal and steer the ball past Lewis.
It is Morelos who creates the space, sucking in two defenders to leave Kent free and the Colombian sets Kent away who finishes calmly.
A couple of crosses which cause Lewis a bit of trouble in the Aberdeen goal. The first corner has to be batted away by him before he is scrambling to stop a Hagi cross from going in, but luckily it crashes into the side netting.
Aberdeen get forward for the first time in this game and it is Kennedy who troubles Tavernier, but the hosts, without star forwards Cosgrove and Main, concede the free-kick.
First half chance for the visitors.
Hagi and Barisic combine well down the left and the latter finds Aribo in the box. The midfielder gathers but his shot is well blocked on the stretch.
First real sighting for Morelos here, who has often come deep for the ball so far, but he turns away from Ojo before being hauled down by the Aberdeen man.
Aberdeen have hardly had a kick at Pittodrie so far, and Gerrard’s men are comfortably stroking the ball around but their intricate play has yet to bring reward.
New signing Balogun takes a more direct approach for the visitors and clips a ball into the path of Kent, who cannot quite get a touch on the ball which would have seen him 1v1 against the keeper.
Barosic has the chance to whip a ball into the box but surprisingly overhits the cross, but in Steven Gerrard’s 11th match against Aberdeen, it is his side who have started the bightest.
The visitors have dominated possession in the opening exchanges and Hagi has had some good runs into dangerous positions so far.
After almost five months without football in Scotland, it is the visitors who get us underway thanks to Bobby Madley’s whistle, after the players take the knee.
All ready for the beginning of the new Scottish Premiership season here, with Steven Gerrard’s men needing to begin this season how they began the last.
A very surreal experience inside the ground, with the first match in Scotland’s top-flight without fans taking place.
With just a few minutes to go until kick-off, Aberdeen will be hoping for better form than they have shown in pre season.
McInnes witnessed his side share the spoils with Ross County and Hibernian either side of a 2-1 defeat to St Johnstone in July, and Aberdeen are welcoming Rangers to a ground where they have only managed to accumulate one league win from five in 2020.
Steven Gerrard has been opening up to Jamie Carragher ahead of the Scottish Premiership restart.
He underlined that it was important for Rangers to win their first trophy under him this season, while also stating their valuation for Morelos has not been met and also stating they are close to a couple of signings.
The two clubs facing each other today finished 22 points apart upon the curtailment of last season, but it was enough for Aberdeen who clinched fourth and a route into the Europa League.
Aberdeen ended their 2019-20 campaign with a 3-1 victory over Hibernian before the decision was taken to end the season early, and Derek McInnes’ men will undoubtedly be raring to go as they set their sights on a top-three finish this time around.
With Jermain Defoe nursing a hamstring injury, Gerrard’s other challenge comes in trying to keep Alfredo Morelos motivated after the previously prolific striker struggled following the winter break last season.
That task could be made even harder with speculation surrounding his future at Ibrox intensifying.
Reports suggested he is close to a move to Lille, but Gerrard has insisted a deal is nowhere near.
The challenge of stopping rivals Celtic from claiming a 10th straight league title may still be daunting, but Rangers have begun well in their pursuit of it.
They excelled in pre-season as they claimed the Veolia Cup with victories over Lyon and Nice.
The Gers followed up their triumph in France with wins over Motherwell and Coventry City upon their return to Ibrox.
Recent seasons appear to suggest the issue Gerrard must address is Rangers’ post-Christmas form, with their title push collapsing after the new year in each of the past two seasons.
In the first 10 games of last season, his side won eight, drew one and lost the Old Firm derby.
But in the final 10 games of the season which was called off early due to the coronavirus pandemic, his side won just half of those and suffered defeat to the likes of Hearts, Kilmarnock and Hamilton Academical, as well as drawing against today’s opponents.
Make no mistake about it, the heat is on at Ibrox for this season.
Steven Gerrard has been afforded time because of previous years of struggles on and off the pitch before his arrival.
But the former England captain will know he has to deliver trophy success after two barren years and finishing 13 points behind Celtic last season, and which has to start with a psychologicallly boosting win at Aberdeen today.
The coronavirus pandemic and the awarding of positions based on points-per-game decision may have let Gerrard a little more off the hook than normal, but he will know there will be few excuses this time around.
Aberdeen XI: Lewis, Hernandez, Taylor, McKenna, Considine, Kennedy, Ojo, Bryson, Hayes, Ferguson, Anderson
It’s a Rangers debut for Leon Balogun following his move from Wigan.
Good morning all, and yes it’s back! Last season’s ending of the Scottish Premiership may still be making the headlines but today marks the start of a new campaign which could be make or break at the top of the pile again this year.
The season kicks off with Rangers travelling to Aberdeen, with Steven Gerrard’s men knowing they can afford few slip-ups in order to achieve their short-term and long-term goals.
The former includes attempting a win in a tough opening fixture at Pittodrie and performing a miraculous comeback against Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League.
But their longer-term focus will undoubtedly be centred on preventing arch rivals Celtic from a tenth consecutive Scottish title.
We will have team news very shortly.
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