As football returned to Pittodrie after the winter break, Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass made just one change from the side that beat Dundee 2-1 on Boxing Day. Fit again Scott Brown returned to the side in place of the injured Marley Watkins. With the bench now expanded to nine players, in came fit again Dylan McGeouch and Matty Kennedy, along with Connor Barron.
League leaders Rangers beat St Mirren 2-0 at home Boxing Day and they made just one change with new signing James Sands replacing Joe Aribo, currently playing for Nigeria at the African Nations Cup.
Rangers started brightly and Joe Lewis was quickly into the action, reading the game well to come across and snuff out a dangerous run from Wright in the third minute. Hagi was in the book on six minutes for preventing the Dons taking a quick free-kick, a silly caution to pick up so early in the game.
Aberdeen were a fraction away from the lead a minute later, Lewis Ferguson winning the ball and feeding Ryan Hedges who helped the ball on to Teddy Jenks on the edge of the box. He dug out a vicious shot that left McGregor standing and watching like a man at a bus stop as it smacked against the post and went behind.
It was Jenks again on 11 minutes, David Bates playing forward, Funso Ojo producing a deft pass into Jenks' feet, the Brighton loanee producing a low drive from 25 yards that had McGregor at full stretch to save. The Dons were really on song by now, knocking the ball around with purpose. Ojo was the creator again on 13 minutes, pulling the ball back through the box, Brown coming on it from 20 yards but he put his effort over the bar.
On 20 minutes, real controversy. It came after a raking ball from Hayes had Hedges in on goal. He just beat McGregor to the ball, put it over his head and, as he chased it, he was caught by the goalkeeper, it looked a penalty and a card, yet nothing was given, despite it all happening right in front of the assistant referee.
As the referee waved play on, Rangers burst forward. Wright found Kent who whipped in a great near post cross, Hagi getting between Lewis and Ross McCrorie to poke in. A game changing 30 seconds.
From the kick-off pretty much, a shot from the halfway line from Ferguson had McGregor, who could have been making himself a cup of tea in the dressing room, scrambling backwards, the ball dropping onto the roof of the net, much to his relief.
The Dons started to work their way back int the game and on 36 minutes, a Hayes cross caused chaos, Barisic only just turning it behind. The corner was cleared back out to Ramsay who clubbed a shot over the bar from a tight angle.
Brown was booked, presumably for dissent after Ramsay's foul on Hagi. Tavernier was next to be carded for a high boot on Ojo. Ojo needed some prolonged treatment a few moments later before continuing. As we headed into injury time, Ojo did well chasing a Hayes ball down the left, but his excellent hooked cross was behind Ramirez and found no takers.
HALF-TIME: ABERDEEN 0 RANGERS 1
Aberdeen started the second half strongly, a Hayes free-kick into the box knocked down by Ramirez, Brown coming onto it on the volley but blasting over in the opening minute. Brown was a magnet for the ball at this point, getting on the end of a Ramsay corner on 53 minutes, but putting his header over the bar.
The referee had the card out again after McCrorie won the ball from Morelos on halfway on 58 minutes. Rangers made their first change on 64 minutes, Wright making way for Lundstram.
A dangerous run from Kent into the Aberdeen box ended with him kicking the ground and falling over on 65 minutes.
Ferguson exchanged passes with Ramirez, only to be poleaxed by Bassey but again the Dons didn't get the decision. Connor McLennan then joined the fray in place of Ojo on 68 minutes.
Finally, the Dons did get a break. Hayes' corner was met by Ferguson's head, Morelos throwing out a left arm to block it - penalty for the Dons, as the Rangers striker went in the book. Ferguson put the ball on the spot and, on his 150th appearance for the club, sent McGregor the wrong way to tie things up.
Dean Campbell replaced Ramsay in the aftermath of the goal with 17 minutes left to play. Hayes and Kent were booked after a heated exchange on 76 minutes. Sakala then replaced Hagi, his first impact was in being fouled by McLennan who became the eighth booking of the night.
Eight minutes from time, a brilliant save from Lewis kept things level, Morelos hooking a volley at goal, Lewis hurling himself across goal to push the ball to safety.
Kent was for the early bath in the 83rd minute, leaving his foot in on Brown and duly collecting a second yellow.
Looking to run the clock down now, Rangers removed Morelos on 89 minutes, Itten replacing him.
Aberdeen inches away the winner on 90 minutes, Ramirez wide on the right arcing a cross through the six yard box, McLennan stretching desperately for it but unable to get the decisive touch.
Jenks had the final chance of the game, trying to wrap his foot around a Ramirez lay off from a tight angle, putting the ball wide of the target.