A moment of madness from Aberdeen captain Anthony Stewart proved to be the turning point in an epic Viaplay League Cup semi-final against Rangers.
The sides were heading into extra-time level at 1-1 with nothing between them when suddenly the Dons’ defender took Gers’ Fashion Sakala out of the game through a wild sliding tackle which sent the forward tumbling.
Stewart was given his marching orders in the 93rd minute and after that, it never looked like his side had the energy to win the game with only 10 men.
However, it was Jim Goodwin’s team who had taken the lead and deservedly so in the first half. They had come into the tie on the back of a poor run with only one win in five compared to their opponents who were unbeaten under new manager Michael Beale with six wins out of their last seven.
It took the Dons until the 41st minute to grab the opener when Bojan Miovski met Kennedy’s cross at the back post to net his 13th of the season. The relief was all there to be seen after an earlier goal by Miovski had been chopped off by VAR for offside.
Despite an onslaught of chances at the start of the second half for Rangers, there were no clear-cut ones to trouble Aberdeen. That was until the 62nd minute when Alfredo Morelos slid a pass into Ryan Jack and the number eight’s shot deflected off Dons’s defender Scales into the net to make it 1-1.
A battle ensued and both sides had their chances. Just as you thought the teams would thrash it out in an extra 30 minutes, Stewart’s reckless challenge saw his side reduced to 10 men.
And it was the two substitutes for Rangers from the double change in the 74th that broke the deadlock in ET. Former Aberdeen winger, Stephen Wright managed to get to by-line before cutting it back across goal to Kemar Roofe and the striker who has struggled with injury this season, bagged the winner.
Roofe would later come off injured again – a concern for the Ibrox fans as Roofe managed to score the winner against Celtic in last season’s Scottish Cup semi-final.
Despite a 25 yard screamer from former Celtic midfielder Johnny Hayes, Alan McGregor had a relatively comfortable extra time and the 2022 Scottish Cup holders held on to make their second consecutive cup final.
They’ll now try to win their first League Cup since 2011. Back then, they beat Celtic 2-1 after extra time. They’ll need to produce a better performance than this semi-final to conquer the holders.