Aberdeen were given a huge boost ahead of kick off with the news that Jonny Hayes was not only fit to make the squad, but play from the start. His inclusion was one of four changes to the team that won on Thursday against St Johnstone as the manger freshened up the starting XI. In came Peter Pawlett, Mark Reynolds and Adam Rooney to replace James Maddison, Wes Burns, Ash Taylor and Jayden Stockley.
In front of a sell-out crowd, the opening exchanges were well fought by both sides. Peter Pawlett had a great surging run forward but couldn't release the ball in time.
A couple of Rangers set pieces put the Dons under pressure but overall there was not much between the two teams in the first 20 minutes. The visitors could have made more of a free kick from 20 yards in a very central position. Tavernier's shot couldn't make it over the wall allowing the Dons to clear.
On 26 minutes Joe Lewis made a quite outstanding save. A shot from Garner took a horrible deflection of Logan and the ball lopped up and was heading into the far corner. The big Englishman did superbly well to get across and get a touch with a flying leap which he timed perfectly.
At the other end Aberdeen's best effort came when Shay Logan squared it for Kenny McLean who drove it from the edge of the box. The shot was very well hit and on target and Fotheringham was forced to tip the ball over the bar.
Then for the rest of the half it was Rangers who looked the more likely to open the scoring and were denied by some great last ditch defending by Mark Reynolds after 37 minutes when Wallace played over a good ball to the back post which Garner headed back into the danger area and Reynolds had to be well positioned to clear. The Govan side looked threatening and were perhaps unlucky not to be ahead a minute later when after a good passing move the ball broke for Holt inside the area but his first time shot was well off target.
On 39 minutes during a rare Dons attack Shinnie put a good ball across the face of goal but Rooney could not get on the end of it. A minute later Considine made a superb last ditch tackle on Waghorn just as the Rangers striker was away to shoot. Then just before the break Holt had another good chance but his shot was straight at Lewis.
It had been a tough half of football for Aberdeen as Rangers had enjoyed a lot of possession but the Dons did defend well.
Half Time: Aberdeen 0 - 0 Rangers
The first change of the game was made at the restart. Peter Pawlett came off and was replaced by James Maddison.
Straight away the Dons were on the front foot and within 25 seconds of the restart they had taken the lead. A long ball from Lewis was flicked on by Rooney who out jumped his man on the left hand side. Jonny Hayes gambled and his run was not tracked. Hayes' pace allowed him to get onto the loose ball and with so much calmness Jonny slid the ball underneath Fotheringham. It was a superb finish, and there was a huge celebration from the Red Army to match.
With their noses in front, the Dons tried to bring some composure to a game that was being played at an extremely quick tempo throughout.
The visitors had a golden opportunity to level the match when Barry McKay weaved his way past Logan, he cut the ball back but Waghorn blazed the ball over the bar from six yards.
It was a game that was crying out for someone to get their foot on the ball and slow things down, McLean and Shinnie were putting in a huge shift in the middle of the park but the Dons continued to sit deep and were happy to soak up the pressure.
Niall McGinn was the next man to come off and was replaced by Wes Burns. It was a like for like change with the pace of Burns likely to cause problems. Hayes moved over to the left but shortly after the substitution, with 12 minutes to go, Rangers won a penalty when Jonny Hayes dragged Wallace down in the box. It was certainly a foul as Jonny had lost his man although the initial contact may have been outside area. Halliday stepped up and made no mistake from the spot with a well taken penalty. It was game on at Pittodrie.
Rangers looked hungry for a winner and pressed The Dons high up the park but the visitors looked frustrated with what was a very solid defensive performance from Aberdeen.
With the stoppage time board minutes away it was time for heroes. And it was the youngest man on the park who would rise to the occasion. After a period where a lot of fouls were given away, the Dons won a free kick on the left hand side when Hayes was taken down by Tavernier. James Maddison is not a player short of confidence. His direct free kick sailed through the air, crashing off the post into the net. What. A. Goal.
Three minutes of stoppage time turned into five after the goal celebrations. Ash Taylor was thrown on to solidify a defence which never looked like conceding. The final whistle went, and the Red Army erupted.
It had been a long 90 minutes but a famous win and a goal that will be remembered for many years to come.
Three games played in one week, three wins. A superb effort from the players. Second in the league and with a semi-final to look forward to, it looks like being an exciting Autumn.