James Tavernier’s second-half penalty double helped Rangers finally get the better of Aberdeen in Glasgow with a 2-0 victory at Ibrox.
The Dons had knocked Gers out of both cup competitions in the city, and also silenced them on their last Ladbrokes Premiership trip south.
But Tavernier ensured their was no clean sweep for Derek McInnes’ men as he swept home twice from the spot.
Defeat means Aberdeen – who finished the game with 10 men men after Andrew Considine was shown a second yellow card in conceding the second penalty – can no longer catch Gerrard’s team for second place.
And the Light Blues also avoided handing Celtic the title on the plate, with the champions-elect nine clear with nine points still available.
Before kick-off there was a minute’s applause in memory of Celtic great and former Dons boss Billy McNeill following his death earlier this week and the home supports’ tribute was every bit as gracious as the visitors’.
Both teams centred their approaches around the long ball. Rangers were looking to make the most of Jermain Defoe’s movement by slipping the veteran in behind, while Aberdeen set out hoping to make the most of Sam Cosgrove’s ability in the air.
The Dons nearly got the early breakthrough 13 minutes in when James Wilson dumped a long free-kick into the back-post area – but Cosgrove could only nod wide.
It was Gers’ turn to go long soon after as Connor Goldson shelled the ball in from the back, leading to a clumsy collision between Defoe and Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis.
The Pittodrie number one took a moment getting back to his feet but McInnes would soon have reason to be relieved that he was able to continue.
Gers turned up the heat as the game reached the midway point of the half.
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Ryan Kent fired wide before Lewis had to make a stunning save to keep out Defoe after Scott Arfield had sent the Englishman through on goal as he flicked a Steven Davis pass round the corner.
Gers continued to push as the game ticked towards the break. Kent delivered a ball from wide on the right but Goldson headed over while Lewis stood firm to keep out further efforts from Tavernier and Davis.
But they only had to wait three minutes after the change of ends for the breakthrough.
Davis forced an early corner and as the ball dropped at the back post, Lewis Ferguson got himself in a tangle with Defoe before tripping over Nikola Katic as he stood on the Croatian’s foot.
Referee Don Robertson showed no doubt as he pointed straight to the spot and Rangers skipper Tavernier was just as assured as he sent Lewis the wrong way with his penalty.
Defoe blew a great chance from point-blank range to double the lead after 58 minutes as Tavernier’s cross ricocheted off Lewis’ chest straight to the poacher – but he scooped over.
Tavernier had the ball in the net again after 64 minutes as he chipped over Lewis, but what would have been a stunning team goal was chalked out after the right-back had wandered offside.
But the captain did get his second as Robertson awarded Gers their second spot-kick.
Katic was again involved as Davis sent in another corner, this time going down rather softly after catching Considine’s flailing arm to the face.
The decision stunned the Dons defender and his frustration was compounded when Robertson produced a second yellow to go with the one he received just before the break as he was sent off.
Tavernier showed no mercy as he sent the ball passed Lewis’ despairing reach to confirm the points.
But Gerrard was in sentimental mood and afforded former club captain Lee Wallace a standing ovation from the home support late on ahead of his expected summer departure.
Ally McCoist believes Scottish football is in danger of slipping back to the dark ages and social media is a factor following the latest incident in the Hibernian vs Rangers game on Friday night.
A Hibs fan ran onto the playing area during their Scottish Premiership clash and kicked the ball away from Rangers captain James Tavernier.
The two then laid hands on each other before the supporter was led away by police.
It follows a string of incidents that has put fans behaviour under the spotlight in Scotland.
Former Rangers striker McCoist told talkSPORT: “Maybe I’m wrong in saying social media is a factor, particularly because I’m not on it.
“I do hear stories and my older boys will tell me some of the stuff that is written is vitriolic and it’s horrible.
“I think it was getting better but is now in danger of slipping back into the dark ages.
“Social media has so many good things but also gives some of these idiots a platform to say things that shouldn’t be said and to organise trouble.
“It’s really disappointing. Scottish football for the first time, in a long time, has all of its clubs back in the top flight and it’s exciting.
“It’s a good league and the overall quality and product has been better. I’ve really enjoyed it but this is concerning.”
Celtic’s Scott Sinclair was nearly struck by a glass bottle at the same ground last week.
Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos had a coin thrown at him during their Scottish Premiership match against St Mirren in November and there have been a number of other coin-throwing incidents in recent months.
Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke was also subject to sectarian chants from Rangers fans last month.
The incident at Hibs on Friday is the latest in a long list of poor crowd behaviour that is concerning McCoist.
“Last week there was a bottle thrown at Scott Sinclair from the same corner of the stadium at the Hibs vs Celtic game,” he said.
“The following day I went up to the Aberdeen vs Rangers game and I said to the boys I don’t think I’ve felt a horrible atmosphere like that at a football ground for about 20 years. It was absolutely poisonous.
“I said to a couple of the cops after the game and asked them what was wrong but they said they didn’t know.
“They felt there was an underlying current at that particular game that was horrible and not nice.
“But last night, this man comes on just before half-time. I don’t know if he’s drunk or what he’s on.
"I was going to call him a supporter but I won't…it's unacceptable!"
"A statement on the website isn't good enough, we have to talk about this!"
However, Tomarov believes his team are capable of doing that and if they are successful in their endeavours he would like Ufa to sign Rangers trio Alfredo Morelos, James Tavernier and Connor Goldson.
Steven Gerrard’s side bought Borna Barisic from beaten opponents Osijek and are close to agreeing another deal for winger Eros Grezda.
Meanwhile, Ufa signed striker Lovro Bizjak from NK Domzale, who they defeated in their opening qualifier and appear set to agree a deal for Progres Niederkorn midfielder Olivier Thill after edging out the Luxembourg side in the last round.
But Tomarov admitted it might be hard to make the audacious swoop for the Gers players as the European transfer window closes on Friday.
He said: “Who do I fancy? Rangers have many fine footballers. I really liked Alfredo Morelos up front, Connor Goldson in the centre of defence and the captain James Tavernier at right-back.
“However, time isn’t on our side. There isn’t too much time to buy players because the transfer deadline is very soon.”
Ufa were only formed in 2011 but have made excellent progress up the Russian lower leagues and made it to the top flight within three years.
And their manager said that their showdown with Rangers is the biggest game in their short history.
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Tomarov added: “I can say for a fact this is the most important game in our history because we’ve gone in seven years from the third tier of Russian football to the Premier League.
“Now we’re in the Europa League and within touching distance of the group stage.
“Who knows, maybe next time it will be the Champions League, so we go step by step. Qualification is the most important stage for us at this period in our history.”
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