Aberdeen slipped to a frustrating 4-2 defeat against Rangers as both teams finished with 10 men at Pittodrie.
The Dons deserved something from a match that they dominated for large spells, striker Sam Cosgrove grabbed a double for the Reds, but it wasn’t enough.
Alfredo Morelos bagged a brace for Rangers before being sent off along with Aberdeen defender Scott McKenna following an altercation early in the second half.
A controversial penalty scored by James Tavernier, that was given against McKenna, and a stoppage time strike from Jermain Defoe sealed the Gers victory.
Dons boss Derek McInnes made one change to the team that beat Hibs 2-1 at Easter Road on Saturday with Stevie May dropping to the bench and McKenna coming in to start after recovering from the hamstring injury he sustained in the 0-0 draw with Kilmarnock on January 26.
Striker Cosgrove and goalie Joe Lewis both started after having to be subbed at the weekend. Cosgrove shook off a back problem and Lewis was fine after getting a gash above his left eye following a collision with a post at Easter Road.
The Reds started brightly and on six minutes Max Lowe’s long throw fell for Greg Stewart who hooked a snapshot narrowly over the bar.
Soon after Lowe was almost clean through after linking with Stewart down the left, but good defending from Connor Goldson ushered the ball back to Allan McGregor.
Just after the quarter hour the Gers had a big chance when former Don Ryan Jack borrowed into the box down the left, his low cut-back was half-cleared by Tommie Hoban to Morelos who fired right across the goal face from 10 yards.
The visitors led on 20 minutes when Ryan Kent’s shot from just inside the box was parried by Lewis and Morelos stabbed home the rebound from six yards.
On the half hour Aberdeen levelled with through Cosgrove. Stewart tricked his way into the area on the right and stood up a cross which Tavernier headed clear.
The loose ball dropped for Lewis Ferguson, whose volley from 25 yards was blocked but it rebounded for Cosgrove to sweep home from eight yards – the Englishmen’s 13th goal of the season.
It was only 1-1 for eight minutes as Rangers got their second and again it was Morelos.
A powerful run from Jack ended with him finding Morelos and from 18 yards the Colombian placed a low left-footed shot into the bottom left corner.
Morelos was fortunate at that point not to be in referee Bobby Madden’s book at that point for a number of petty, niggly fouls.
Three minutes before the interval things got worse for the Dons when Madden awarded Rangers a controversial penalty.
Tavernier’s free-kick from the right was flicked on by Goldson and struck McKenna’s raised hand at point-blank range, it looked harsh given the Scotland defender being so close to Goldson.
Despite Aberdeen protests it was a penalty and Tavernier found the bottom right corner from 12 yards despite the valiant attempts of Lewis to save it.
The Reds needed to make a fast start to the second half and they did, pulling a goal back within two minutes of the restart.
They won a corner on the left and as the ball was being played in Tavernier wrested Ferguson to the ground, whistler Madden was well-placed and pointed to the spot from which Cosgrove made no mistake firing down the middle.
At the other end Lewis made a good smothering stop after Morelos, who looked suspiciously offside, broke through.
The Dons were on the front foot and a mazy run down the left from Gary Mackay-Steven saw him send an angled drive narrowly wide of the near post.
But on 55 minutes the game changed as both sides were reduced to 10 men.
McKenna beat Morelos to a ball in the box and cleared his lines, as Morelos went to challenge he appeared to kick McKenna once the ball had gone.
With the Dons defender on the ground he was deemed to have retaliated with a kick back, it didn’t appear to look like much but Madden brandished the red card McKenna’s way before doing the same to Morelos.
After this the Dons kept up the pressure and only a block from Joe Worrall denied Stewart after he weaved in from the right and shot.
Rangers seemed content to sit in and try to hang on to their 3-2 advantage with Aberdeen pushing for an equaliser.
James Wilson came on and had one shot saved by McGregor and another deflected behind for a fruitless corner and the on-loan Manchester United man almost slipped in Cosgrove on another occasion.
It was one-way traffic and with a couple of minutes of normal time left McGregor pulled off a fine reflex save after Hoban had flicked on Stewart’s scuffed shot from a corner.
At times Rangers were struggling to get far beyond their own penalty area due to Dons’ pressure but in the seven minutes of stoppage time the Govan side broke away on the counter attack and Tavernier fed sub Jermain Defoe who slotted home their fourth from 10 yards.
Aberdeen: Joe Lewis, Shay Logan (James Wilson 64), Andrew Considine, Tommie Hoban, Scott McKenna, Max Lowe (Niall McGinn 87), Graeme Shinnie, Lewis Ferguson, Greg Stewart, Gary Mackay-Steven, Sam Cosgrove.
Subs not used: Tomas Cerny, Mikey Devlin, Stephen Gleeson, Dominic Ball, Stevie May.
Rangers: Allan McGregor, James Tavernier, Joe Worrall, Connor Goldson, Ryan Jack, Ryan Kent (Nikola Katic 82), Ross McCrorie, Alfredo Morelos, Daniel Candeias (Jermain Defoe 71), Borna Barisic, Scottt Arfield (Lassana Couilbaly 87).
Subs not used: Wes Foderingham, Steven Davis, Kyle Lafferty, Andy Halliday.