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Rangers strike late on 150th birthday to close on Celtic

Glasgow (AFP) – Rangers needed Kemar Roofe to come off the bench and grab a vital winner nine minutes from time as they moved level on points with Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a 1-0 victory over Aberdeen on Saturday.

On the day the Scottish champions were celebrating their 150th anniversary, Rangers nearly dropped more precious points in the battle for the title against an Aberdeen side languishing just above the relegation zone.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst was criticised for not using his bench at all in a 1-0 win at St Johnstone in midweek, but this time his changes proved crucial as Roofe bundled home James Tavernier’s header across goal.

“It was a game with two faces,” said Van Bronckhorst.

“In the first half, Aberdeen gave us a big challenge, they played well, had a lot of duels and it was not easy for us to build and find the right solutions.

“Second half it was a different game, we had a better tempo like we normally have, we stretched the pitch, we passed better.”

The Rangers manager added: “We were just waiting for the goal and fortunately the goal gave us the three points that we need.”

Aberdeen are now winless in 10 games, including three since new boss Jim Goodwin took over.

“I am extremely disappointed to take nothing from the game,” he said. “I thought the overall performance merited a point.”

Celtic remain top on goal difference and have a game in hand when they visit Livingston on Sunday.

Hearts retain a huge 13-point lead over the chasing pack in third after also scoring late to secure a 2-2 draw at Dundee United.

Hibernian stay in fourth after a third consecutive goalless draw against second bottom St Johnstone.

Dundee remain bottom, one point behind St Johnstone, after a 1-1 draw at Motherwell.

Ross County moved into the top six as Joseph Hungbo’s penalty saw St Mirren defeated 1-0.

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