Glasgow (AFP) – Rangers crushed Aberdeen 4-0 to put the seal on their unbeaten Scottish Premiership title-winning campaign on Saturday.
Steven Gerrard’s side had already been confirmed as champions several weeks ago, but were determined to finish the season without a league defeat.
Aberdeen never threatened to spoil the party as Kemar Roofe scored twice for Rangers after Joe Lewis’s early own goal.
Former Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe completed the demolition in the final moments.
Having ended Celtic’s bid for a 10th successive Scottish title, Rangers finished with 102 points after going unbeaten through the entire 38-game campaign.
Rangers’ 19th win from 19 league games at Ibrox this season saw them finish 25 points clear of second placed Celtic.
Thousands of Rangers fans set off blue and red flares and waved flags as they gathered outside the empty stadium to celebrate.
Rangers captain James Tavernier lifted the Scottish Premiership trophy after the final whistle in a presentation ceremony on the pitch.
It was met by a barrage of fireworks as the Rangers faithful lit Glasgow up in red, white and blue, with many climbing on the stadium gates and dancing together in the streets as social distancing rules went out of the window.
The triumph was a sweet moment for former Liverpool and England star Gerrard, who has earned his stripes in Glasgow in his first managerial role.
– ‘He’s done magnificent’ –
Gerrard’s success has caught the eye of many in the football world.
Former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson, who featured for Rangers in his playing days, recently saluted the way Gerrard has coped with the intense pressure of managing the Old Firm giants.
“Oh, he’s done magnificent. He really has, both on and off the field. A press interview can lose you your job in management. But Steven’s press conferences are fantastic,” Ferguson told The Guardian.
“He’s cool, he’s composed, he gives the right answers. He’s really top because it’s an art.”
Gerrard responded by revealing he has sought advice from Ferguson.
“I’ll let you into a little secret: I’ve had a couple of conversations with him,” Gerrard said.
“Since I retired we have parked our rivalry up and he gave me time on the phone to bounce a few things off him, a few questions to do with the management up here at Rangers. He was fantastic in those conversations.”
Ferguson, who made his name as Aberdeen boss before enjoying decades of unparallelled success at Old Trafford, couldn’t have done much better than Gerrard this season.
Rangers equalled Celtic’s clean-sheet record of 26 for a 38-game season, set in 1913-14.
The 13 league goals they conceded this term is also a record low, beating the previous benchmark for a title-winning team of 15 set by Chelsea in 2005.
The champions needed only five minutes to put Aberdeen in their place.
Ianis Hagi clipped a tidy ball out to Tavernier on the right-hand side.
Tavernier’s cross took a big deflection off Jack MacKenzie before Lewis’s attempted punch to clear flew backwards into his own net.
Rangers extended their lead after 34 minutes when Ryan Kent cut back for Roofe to slot past Lewis.
The third goal came when Tommie Hoban’s loose pass was pounced on by Hagi as he fed Roofe, who swept home his second with an expert low finish on the hour.
There was still time for Rangers to put gloss on a historic day as Greg Stewart slid in Defoe to score as Rangers ensured the party started with a bang.