Glasgow (AFP) – Steven Gerrard is set to finish his first season as Rangers boss empty-handed as his side crashed out of the Scottish Cup after a 2-0 quarter-final replay defeat to Aberdeen at Ibrox.
With Rangers eight points adrift of Celtic in the Scottish Premiership title race, Gerrard’s realistic hopes of lifting a trophy at the end of his rookie campaign rested on steering his side through their last eight clash with Derek McInnes’s men.
But goals in either half from Niall McGinn and Connor McLennan gave Aberdeen their third win over the Gers in Glasgow this season and set up a semi-final with Celtic next month.
Rangers have now beaten the Dons just once in six meetings this season.
Aberdeen got off to a perfect start after three minutes when Glen Kamara tried a risky square ball across his defence to James Tavernier and watched with horror as it went wrong as McGinn nicked possession before calmly beating Allan McGregor.
Rangers’ top scorer Alfredo Morelos had been sent off three times in five of the previous meetings between the sides this season.
Gerrard refused to contemplate leaving out the Colombian for Jermain Defoe, but was left to regret that decision on a frustrating night for Morelos.
The striker was booked for diving, a caution that would have seen him suspended for the semi-final had Rangers progressed.
Ryan Jack almost fired Gers level eight minutes before the break as a Borna Barisic corner broke his way but his low drive thudded off the base of the post.
Just after the hour mark, though, Aberdeen administered a sucker-punch second goal to seal the tie.
Stevie May played in McLennan behind the Rangers defence and he did the rest with a cool finish past McGregor.
Gerrard had no option but to go all in and immediately threw on Defoe and Kyle Lafferty to join Morelos in a three-man attack.
But Andrew Considine produced a great block to deny Defoe, while Joe Lewis kept out a Morelos strike as Aberdeen held firm.
Hearts will face Inverness Caley Thistle in the other semi-final after coming from behind to beat Partick Thistle 2-1 at Tynecastle.
Sean Clare’s penalty proved decisive after Uche Ikpeazu cancelled out Scott McDonald’s opener.