Steven Gerrard was pleased with the resilience displayed by Rangers as they got their quest to deny Celtic a record-breaking 10th consecutive Scottish Premiership title off to a winning start with a 1-0 win at Aberdeen. Ryan Kent scored the only goal of the first Scottish Premiership game for 147 days after the 2019/20 season was ended early due to the coronavirus pandemic. Rangers lost a series of points from winning positions in the second half of last season to finish 13 points behind Celtic when the campaign was curtailed in March.
And Gerrard was pleased his side saw the game out comfortably despite failing to add to their lead. “I’m pleased we showed signs today we are capable of staying in there and getting over the line,” the former Liverpool captain said.
“In an ideal world we want it to look great in every game, but over the course of 38 games you’ve got to stay tough, stay together and put your body on the line. They pushed us all the way, but this is a big three points.”
Both sides struggled to adapt to their new surroundings with no fans at Pittodrie for a traditionally intense fixture on and off the field. “I’ll enjoy the win, but from a very young boy it was all about the fans for me,” added Gerrard. “Unfortunately we never had the away end with us today. For me fans need to be back as soon as possible, when it’s safe.”
Alfredo Morelos has been linked with a big money move to Lille over the past week, but Rangers insist the French side have not come close to matching their valuation of the Colombian, who played his part in the winner. Morelos picked out the run of Kent, who timed his run perfectly and slotted past Joe Lewis into the far corner on 21 minutes.
Aberdeen were without their two first-choice strikers in Sam Cosgrove and Curtis Main and it showed as the Dons failed to register a shot on target. “Rangers had far more possession in the first half than we would have liked, but that said Joe has had only one save to make,” said Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes. “We got into some good positions and just that quality wasn’t there for us.”
A wild lunge from Andrew Considine on Scott Arfield gave Aberdeen even more of a mountain to climb four minutes from time as the defender was shown a straight red card. Elsewhere, two first-half goals from Martin Boyle saw Hibs end the opening day top of the table as Jack Ross’s men beat Kilmarnock 2-1 at Easter Road despite a brilliant free-kick from Chris Burke to get the visitors back in the game just before half-time.
Dundee United’s first game in the top-flight for four years ended in a 1-1 draw with St Johnstone. Nicky Clark’s early penalty and a red card for Saints’ Michael O’Halloran in first half stoppage time had Micky Mellon on course to win his first game as United manager.
However, Liam Craig’s volley earned a point for the 10 men after the break. St Mirren beat Livingston 1-0 thanks to debutant Richard Tait’s diving header. Celtic begin the defence of their title at home to Hamilton today.
Scottish Premiership results
Aberdeen 0 Rangers 1 (Kent 21); Dundee United 1 (Clark 6-pen) St Johnstone 1 (Craig 55); Hibernian 2 (Boyle 5, 34) Kilmarnock 1 (Burke 44); St Mirren 1 (Tait 30) Livingston 0
Today: Celtic v Hamilton (1530 GMT)
Tomorrow: Ross County v Motherwell (1845 GMT)
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