THERE was no 10-In-A-Row for James Tavernier at Pittodrie yesterday.

The Rangers captain, normally so dependable from 12 yards out, fired a penalty wide in the first-half when the score was still level.

The miss brought to an end a remarkable run of consistency from the spot - the right back had buried nine in succession since he had last failed to convert against Motherwell on October 27, 2019.

Yet, the hard-fought and vital win recorded by Tavernier and his team mates at the end of the 90 minutes reduced the chances of Celtic pulling off the same achievement in the Premiership this season further.

The 1-0 triumph that Steven Gerrard’s men enjoyed against Neil Lennon’s charges at Ibrox in the league nine days ago was rightly seen as hugely significant.

But defeating Aberdeen 2-1 away at Pittodrie, a ground they have so often struggled at in recent seasons, was every bit as important to their hopes of lifting their first Scottish title since 2011.

This is the stage of the season that Rangers have started to leak points, lose momentum and fall behind their city rivals at in the past couple of years.

Alfredo Morelos goals in each half, though, ensured they triumphed at a difficult venue and moved 22 points clear of their nearest challengers, who play the first of their four games in hand against Hibernian at Parkhead this evening, in the top flight table.

They were aided considerably by the red carding of Aberdeen forward Ryan Hedges, who accidentally clipped the heel of Morelos as the striker bore down on goalkeeper Joe Lewis, by referee John Beaton in the first-half.

They also had to withstand a gutsy fightback by their hosts and endured some anxious moments towards the end after substitute Matty Kennedy had capitalised on some slipshod defending and pulled one back in the 67th minute.

Still, it was very hard to argue with the final outcome. Rangers dominated possession and would have won far more comfortably if they had been more clinical in the final third. Ryan Kent, Glen Kamara and Joe Aribo could all have joined Morelos on the scoresheet.

“It should have been even more emphatic,” said Gerrard. “We were excellent in our approach to the game and intent we showed. Playing against 10 men, we maintained our standards.”

It was a massive result. Rangers’ considerable lead appears increasingly insurmountable with every passing game. It is surely now a case of when they will be crowned champions, not if.

Derek McInnes’s side looked like they had gone seven games unbeaten in the Premiership immediately after the game kicked off. They applied sustained early pressure. They were, however, unable to test Allan McGregor and their opponents rallied.

Kent should have put Rangers ahead. He fired straight at Jonny Hayes after the ball broke to him in the opposition area. Lewis then saved well from Tavernier. But the away side would not have to wait long to forge in front.

Kent supplied Morelos, playing in his favoured position up front in the absence of the injured Kemar Roofe, and his team mate did well to control the ball, turn and rifle and unstoppable shot into the back of the net.

He added a second just five minutes into the second-half after good work by Joe Aribo wide on the right. Kent back-heeled his delivery to the predator and he placed it into the bottom right corner.

Gerrard revealed afterwards that urging Rangers’ record European goalscorer, who had been on target just once in 10 outings before yesterday, to push up more had paid off.

“It's quite natural if you are a striker who is not scoring goals in the volume that you want and your confidence is affected that you drop deeper away from the goal,” he said. “You start coming short too much instead of being selfish and getting yourself into the box.

“You saw both his goals today came from him attacking the goal frame right by the penalty spot. That's where we need our No9.”

Some woeful defending – Connor Goldson and Tavernier were posted missing when Hayes squared to Kennedy and the substitute had the simplest of tasks to beat McGregor – made securing their 15th consecutive Premiership win far more difficult than it should have been for Rangers.

“We got a little bit sloppy,” said Gerrard. “We lost control at times and Aberdeen had too many good moments. We need to look at that. But I’m obviously very pleased with the outcome and the points.”

McInnes, whose side now take on Livingston away at the Tony Macaroni Arena in a rescheduled Premiership match on Wednesday night, admitted he had been proud of how his players had clawed their way back into the game despite being at a numerical disadvantage.

“The goal was a real shot in the arm for us and gave us the belief that we would get another chance in the game,” he said. “We have lost but you can still take so much heart and encouragement from the level of performance from the players.

“They played the game the way it needed to be played in the second half and we just came up short. But it was not through a lack of effort. There was plenty about the performance.”