… and finally, here’s a rundown of what happened during those wild final few moments at Pittodrie. Thanks for reading this Clockwatch, and hope to see you tomorrow for the Carabao Cup clash between Manchester United and Burnley. Nighty night!
Ed Aarons was at Stadium MK. This is his report on a good evening for Brendan Rodgers, who continues to turn Leicester’s season around.
Louise Taylor was at St James’ Park. Here’s her take on another positive step forward for Eddie Howe.
Ben Fisher was at Molineux tonight. Here’s his report of a winning start for Julen Lopetegui.
The full-time scores
Milton Keynes Dons 0-3 Leicester City
Newcastle United 1-0 Bournemouth
Southampton 2-1 Lincoln City
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Gillingham
Aberdeen 2-3 Rangers
That was proper Devon Loch behaviour from Aberdeen. They had the winning post in sight, only for Roos, Stewart and Richardson to make elementary mistakes deep into injury time that allowed Scott Arfield to slam home twice from close range! Hats off to Rangers for keeping going, and their late, late, late, late, late show keeps them hanging onto Celtic’s coat-tails by the fingernails. The title race not quite kaput yet, even if Ange Postecoglou’s side remain firmly in control of it. A breathing space for Michael Beale to work with. A sickener for Aberdeen, though. They lost late here to Celtic at the weekend, which was bad enough, but this one will really hurt.
FULL TIME: Aberdeen 2-3 Rangers
Aberdeen were this close to their first win at Pittodrie over Rangers since 2016 … and now look! What an astonishing end to the match! It’s not quite up there with the World Cup final in terms of jaw-dropping drama, but domestic football is back, baby!
GOAL! Aberdeen 2-3 Rangers (Arfield 90 +7)
Tilman worms his way down the right and dinks to the far stick. Stewart and Richardson get in each other’s way as they try to head clear under pressure from Morelos. The ball drops to Goldson, who tries to control with his chest, but can’t. The ball breaks to Goldson’s right, where Arfield is on hand to bash home again! What drama here!
90 min +6: That equaliser has sucked the air out of Pittodrie. The fans gutted. But the team haven’t given up. A free kick launched into the Rangers mixer. The ball breaks to Ramadani, who fires a sensational low drive inches wide of the left-hand post from 25 yards. Had that been on target, there was no way McGregor was getting there. And what drama here, because …
GOAL! Aberdeen 2-2 Rangers (Arfield 90+5)
Kent is allowed to cut in from the right and pearl a shot goalwards from the edge of the D. Roos parries but spills on the line. Arfield reacts quicker than anyone in red, and slams home the loose ball from six yards!
90 min +3: Tavernier clumsily clatters Scales as Rangers attempt to pin Aberdeen back, and Aberdeen are gifted an opportunity to run down the clock.
90 min +2: There will be seven added minutes, incidentally.
90 min +1: Make that nine, as Watkins – who scored in Inverness Caley Thistle’s 2015 Scottish Cup final victory - is cautioned for delaying the restart as McGregor tries to take a free kick. No reds, though, which for this fixture is saying something.
90 min: Arfield becomes the eighth player to go into the referee’s notebook tonight.
89 min: The scorer of the winner the last time Aberdeen beat Rangers in the league at Pittodrie? James Maddison, back in 2016.
87 min: Rangers continue to achieve nothing. The home fans are giving it plenty.
85 min: Aberdeen seem happy to sit back and let Rangers have the ball. No wonder. The visitors are doing precious little with it.
To the last knockings at Pittodrie, then. Seven minutes plus stoppages to go, with Aberdeen leading 2-1. Rangers need a couple of goals to keep their title hopes in any sort of realistic shape, and even then you wouldn’t back them to hunt down leaders Celtic unless Bealeball kicks in quicksmart. But here we go.
FULL TIME: Newcastle 1-0 Bournemouth
The scoreline flatters Bournemouth. Newcastle were utterly dominant, and ease through to the last four.
FULL TIME: Southampton 2-1 Lincoln
Saints should have won by more: Edozie misses an open goal from six yards, then Adams over-elaborates when looking for his hat-trick, with team-mates either side waiting to be teed up for a tap-in. Farcical finishing, but Saints survive and go through to the quarters.
FULL TIME: Wolves 2-0 Gillingham
A winning start for Julen Lopetegui, though Wolves’ new manager doesn’t look particularly happy with his team as he sulks off down the tunnel. Never mind, Wolves are in the last eight!
FULL TIME: MK Dons 0-3 Leicester
Never in doubt. Leicester are the first team into the quarters. The MK Dons can concentrate on their League One relegation battle.
GOAL! Wolves 2-0 Gillingham (Ait-Nouri 90+1)
It’s all over bar the shouting at Molineux. The Gills pile forward in the hope of forcing a penalty shoot-out, but they’re caught on the break and Ait-Nouri sends a forensic diagonal daisycutter into the bottom right from just inside the box.
It very nearly threatens to spill over at Pittodrie. Lundstrum is in the middle of it, having blootered the ball into the prone Watkins, a needlessly aggressive and provocative act. Just a yellow, which is fairly lenient. Richardson also makes his way into the book for his role in the resulting stramash.
Rangers haven’t done a whole lot since falling behind. In the dugout, Michael Beale quietly fumes as he surveys the signal lack of light-blue action on the pitch.
GOAL! Wolves 1-0 Gillingham (Jimenez 77 pen)
The dam finally bursts at Molineux. A corner is swung into the Gillingham box from the right. Hwang is bundled over and the referee points to the spot. Jimenez rolls cutely into the bottom right, having surely studied all those cheeky efforts during the World Cup finals.
GOAL! Southampton 2-1 Lincoln (Adams 74)
Walcott works his way down the right and crosses deep. Elyounoussi attempts a spectacular scissor kick towards the bottom right. It’s cleared off the line, but Adams is on point to bundle the rebound home. Fine team goal!
GOAL! Aberdeen 2-1 Rangers (Clarkson 53)
Aberdeen haven’t beaten Rangers in 13 attempts, but they’re on their way tonight at Pittodrie! Clarkson takes a touch to control a loose ball on the edge of the Rangers D, and whistles a wonderful shot into the bottom right, McGregor given no chance. Pittodrie erupts!
GOAL! Newcastle 1-0 Bournemouth (Smith og 67)
Trippier romps down the right touchline. He whips long. Wilson competes aerially six yards out, his presence forcing Smith to loop a header into his own net. Right into the top right. Senesi tries in vain to hook clear off the line but can’t manage it. The Toon take one tiny step closer to their first major domestic trophy since 1955!
Wolves come close again against Gillingham. Traore speeds his way down the right and whips into the mixer for Costa, who opens his body and sidefoots a powerful volley inches wide of the right-hand post.
They’re underway at Pittodrie again. Aberdeen are looking to come from behind to beat Rangers for the first time since 1988, the days of Alex McLeish, Willie Miller, Jim Bett and Charlie Nicholas. That’s some run they’d snap.
It’s been all Newcastle at St James’ Park, so naturally it’s Bournemouth who nearly take the lead early in the second half. Smith powers his way down the right and digs out a fine cross from a tight spot. Moore, steaming in from the left, meets it with a fine diving header. His effort flashes inches wide of the bottom right. Had that been on target, it would have registered at least eight out of ten on the Houchen-Gvardiol-o-meter.
A lull all over the land. “So, I’m watching the Newcastle-Bournemouth match on ESPN+,” begins Joe Pearson. “Half-time comes and I think I’ll check out the Guardian. What’s this, a Clockwatch? Take a day off, man!” Hey, soccer never stops. You’ll join me on the MBM for Manchester United v Burnley tomorrow night, right?
GOAL! MK Dons 0-3 Leicester (Vardy 50)
Castagne makes his way down the right and reaches the byline before dinking back for Vardy, who steers a header across Cumming and into the bottom left. The 1964, 1997 and 2000 winners are strolling towards the quarter-finals.
The second-half action in the League Cup is underway. The World Cup final finished just 51 hours ago.
Scottish Premiership half-time
Aberdeen 1-1 Rangers
As things stand, the top of the Scottish Premiership looks like this …
GOAL! Aberdeen 1-1 Rangers (Duk 45)
What a goal this is! Duk, to the right of the D, loops the free kick over the wall and curls it into the top left! McGregor had taken a step to his left, perhaps unsure that the three-man Rangers wall, set to guard the other side of the goal, was good enough. That opened the door for Duk, who took full advantage!
… so having said that, Sands goes into the book for a really cynical trip on Miovski, just to the right of the Rangers D. Aberdeen were putting together a promising attack there. Five bookings in this match already, if you’ll allow be to further belabour the point. Anyway, this free kick gives Aberdeen a good opportunity to work McGregor in the Rangers goal. A very dangerous position.
Rangers are looking the more likely to score the next goal at Pittodrie. Kent tees up Sakala, who sends a dipping shot screaming inches over the bar from 25 yards. Not sure Roos was getting to it had it been on target.
Another Aberdonian yellow card. This time it goes to Barron, for a fairly basic tackle on Sands. The odds of an eighth red card in nine games between Aberdeen and Rangers at Pittodrie further shorten.
Carabao Cup half-times
Milton Keynes Dons 0-2 Leicester City
Newcastle United 0-0 Bournemouth
Southampton 1-1 Lincoln City
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-0 Gillingham
A reminder that we’ll go straight to penalty kicks if any game ends in a draw.
At St James’ Park, a low cross rolls through the Bournemouth six-yard box from the left. All Almiron has to do is tap home from six yards, but somehow duffs the connection, the ball barely moving forward before spinning back sadly and getting hoofed away. Meanwhile Wolves go close to taking the lead against Gillingham at Molineux, Hodge sending a header wide from six yards, Neves then cracking a curler off the right-hand upright from the edge of the D. Both games remain goalless.
Incidentally, Jack and Ramadani were recently involved in a full and frank exchange of views, and both have found themselves in the referee’s notebook as a result. Scales has also been yellow carded after going in hard on Morelos. There have been seven reds in the last eight stagings of this particular fixture, incidentally. Like we say, no love lost.
Aberdeen come close to equalising twice in a couple of minutes. First Duk makes a nuisance of himself on the left-hand corner of the Rangers six-yard box, the ball twanging off the post, then ruffling the side netting. A claim that Tavernier had handled, but nothing doing. Then Duk makes good down the left and finds Ramadani in acres just inside the box on the right. Ramadani only has McGregor to beat, but drags his shot wide right. A fine response to falling behind from the Dons.
Wilson has a goal chalked off for offside at St James’ Park. VAR has probably done Bournemouth a solid here, as while Wilson was sweeping into the bottom right from 12 yards, the flag went up with Willock prone nearby. Not sure Willock touched that, nor was he interfering with play. He might not even have been offside, with Almiron the only player stranded, and he was miles away from the action. A fair chance VAR would have unpacked all of that in Newcastle’s favour, but it’s still goalless.
GOAL! MK Dons 0-2 Leicester (Perez 29)
Leicester double their lead with a lovely goal. Thomas creams a long pass down the inside-left channel. Perez takes it down with a silky touch, sending Tucker off to the tuck shop, and threading forensically into the bottom left. That’s delicious!
There was a small pause as VAR checked whether the ball brushed Sakala’s arm. But it clearly came off his chest. And Aberdeen are rattled, allowing Morelos another chance from ten yards. His drive is straight at Roos, who parries well.
GOAL! Aberdeen 0-1 Rangers (Sakala 12)
Rangers score first for once! Morelos bustles down the right and into the box. He crosses. Sakala takes a swipe at the ball, not in a particularly progressive fashion. Up onto his own chest and away. Stewart tries to clear but makes a hash of it. Sakala doesn’t turn down a second chance, poking home the rebound.
GOAL! Southampton 1-1 Lincoln (Adams 25)
Saints are back on terms at St Mary’s, and it’s a controversial one. Elyounoussi spins and sends a lovely looping cross into the Lincoln box from the right wing. Adams is alone on the penalty spot, and steers a header into the top right. He doesn’t celebrate much, and looks a bit sheepish. He looked a smidgen offside. But there’s no VAR, and the goal’s given!
Post-Mondial Existential Angst with Adam Kline-Schoder. “Please help me: is this real? How is it possible that I’m already back watching Southampton losing? I feel like it was simultaneously six years ago and five minutes ago that I was watching them throw away yet another two-goal lead, and yet here we are, 64 games and a different men’s world champion later. How do we resume normal life after That Final?”
GOAL! MK Dons 0-1 Leicester (Tielemans 18)
A lovely goal for the Foxes at the MK Dons. Barnes races down the left wing and fires in a low cross. Vardy tries to flick the ball home from six yards, a decent first-time effort that’s parried by Cumming in the MK goal. The ball breaks to Tielemans, who drives the rebound home from the penalty spot.
Aberdeen and Rangers take to the pitch at Pittodrie. Always a fair chance of this fixture descending into an outrageous donnybrook. No love lost. They’ll be kicking off in a minute.
Actually, looking at a replay of the Lincoln goal, it does look as though Bazunu beat O’Connor to the ball, only for his weak punch to sail apologetically into the top-left corner. Lincoln continue to be on top as they look to double their lead. The slowest of slow start for Nathan Jones at his new manor.
Otherwise, a quiet start to the evening. This Clockwatch was never going to be an energy piece. Then again, the World Cup final took the best part of 80 minutes to really get going, and look how that ended.
GOAL! Southampton 0-1 Lincoln (Bazunu 2 og)
A shock start at St Mary’s! A Lincoln corner sent in from the left. Maitland-Niles takes a wild swipe at the ball in his attempt to clear it. The ball balloons miles into the sky and back towards his own goal. On the line, Bazunu goes up with O’Connor, who may or not win the header that forces the ball over the line. The keeper’s been awarded the own goal, for now.
The League Cup matches are kicking off in Milton Keynes, Southampton, Newcastle and Wolverhampton. Action soon! Action hopefully soon!
Julen Lopetegui takes charge of Wolves for the first time. He names a strong side including Diego Costa and Daniel Podence, plus, returning from the World Cup, Jose Sa and Ruben Neves. Raul Jimenez and Hwang Hee-chan are also back from Qatar, but will start on the bench.
Gillingham make three changes from their last match, an FA Cup win over Dagenham & Redbridge in early December. Stuart O’Keefe, Cheye Alexander and Mikael Mandron all step up.
Southampton are able to select Kyle Walker-Peters for the first time in two months as the right-back returns from a hamstring injury. He’s one of three players recalled by Nathan Jones following the 3-1 Premier League defeat at Liverpool, along with Lyanco and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Armel Bella-Kotchap and Mohammed Salisu also start after their World Cup exploits.
Lincoln make two changes from the goalless draw at Wycombe a couple of weekends ago. Defender Sean Roughan and midfielder Daniel Mandroiu replace Jamie Robson and Jack Diamond.
All five of Newcastle’s returning World Cup stars get straight back to work at the day job. Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier, Fabian Schar, Bruno Guimaraes and Callum Wilson all start, as Eddie Howe makes just one change to the side that beat Chelsea before the Premier League power-down: Chris Wood is replaced by Wilson.
Bournemouth welcome back Wales internationals Chris Mepham and Kieffer Moore to domestic duty. Mepham is one of three changes to the side that beat Everton 3-0 in the Premier League: he, Ryan Christie and Jaidon Anthony replace Jack Stephens, Jefferson Lerma and Marcus Tavernier.
The managerless MK Dons make two changes from the side that beat Portsmouth last weekend, their first League One win in nearly a month. Will Grigg and Dawson Devoy replace Nathan Holland and Bradley Johnson, the latter assuming caretaker-to-the-caretaker duties with actual interim boss Dean Lewington away getting surgery on a hamstring problem.
Leicester welcome back Danny Ward, Wout Faes, Timothy Castagne, Youri Tielemans and Daniel Amartey from World Cup duty. James Maddison, who didn’t get any game time with England in Qatar, won’t be back until the Boxing Day game with Newcastle United.
Carabao Cup team news
Milton Keynes Dons: Cumming, Tucker, O’Hora, Jules, Watson, McEachran, Devoy, Harvie, Eisa, Grant, Grigg.
Subs: Smith, Robson, Holland, Oyegoke, Kemp, Barry, Lawrence, Ravizzoli, Dennis.
Leicester City: Ward, Castagne, Amartey, Faes, Thomas, Soumare, Perez, Tielemans, Praet, Barnes, Vardy.
Subs: Albrighton, Iheanacho, Daka, Vestergaard, Mendy, Ndidi, Iversen, McAteer, Alves.
Newcastle United: Pope, Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn, Longstaff, Bruno Guimaraes, Willock, Almiron, Wilson, Joelinton.
Subs: Lascelles, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin, Ritchie, Targett, Manquillo, Wood, Murphy, Darlow.
Bournemouth: Travers, Smith, Mepham, Senesi, Zemura, Christie, Cook, Billing, Anthony, Solanke, Moore.
Subs: Marcondes, Stacey, Lowe, Dembele, Hill, Greenwood, Plain, Sadi, Adu-Addei.
Southampton: Bazunu, Walker-Peters, Kotchap, Lyanco, Salisu, Perraud, Elyounoussi, Ward-Prowse, Maitland-Niles, Adam Armstrong, Adams.
Subs: McCarthy, Caleta-Car, Aribo, Stuart Armstrong, Mara, Djenepo, Edozie, Diallo, Walcott.
Lincoln City: Rushworth, Walsh, Jackson, O’Connor, Poole, Virtue, Sanders, Roughan, Vernam, House, Mandroiu.
Subs: Oakley-Boothe, Hopper, Bishop, Garrick, Robson, Sorensen, Eyoma, Wright.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Jose Sa, Nelson Semedo, Collins, Kilman, Bueno, Neves, Hodge, Joao Moutinho, Goncalo Guedes, Costa, Daniel Podence.
Subs: Ait Nouri, Jimenez, Hwang, Sarkic, Gomes, Ronan, Matheus Luiz, Adama Traore, Lembikisa.
Gillingham: Turner, Alexander, Wright, Ehmer, Baggott, Tutonda, Jefferies, Williams, O’Keefe, Mandron, Adelakun.
Subs: MacDonald, Lee, Reeves, Kashket, Holtam.
Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin makes two changes to the side that lost late on to Celtic on Saturday. Liam Scales replaces Jack MacKenzie at the back, while Jayden Richardson replaces winger Matty Kennedy.
Rangers manager Michael Beale makes one alteration to the side that twice came back from behind against Hibs to win 3-2 at Ibrox last Thursday evening. Connor Goldson returns from injury, with John Lundstram dropping to the bench.
Scottish Premiership team news
Aberdeen: Roos, McCrorie, Stewart, Scales, Richardson, Barron, Ramadani, Clarkson, Coulson, Miovski, Lopes.
Subs: Lewis, MacKenzie, Morris, Besuijen, Watkins, Hayes, Duncan, Milne, Ramirez.
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Sands, Devine, Kamara, Jack, Sakala, Tillman, Kent, Morelos.
Subs: Lundstram, Matondo, Scott Wright, Davies, McCann, McLaughlin, Arfield, King, Lowry.
… and so, after the Lord Mayor’s Show, we come back down to earth …
… with a Carabao Cup four-fer and a match from the Scottish Premiership.
Milton Keynes Dons v Leicester City
Newcastle United v Bournemouth
Southampton v Lincoln City
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Gillingham
Aberdeen v Rangers
Kick off is at 7.45pm GMT (8pm at Pittodrie) with our hearts still at the Lusail Iconic Stadium in Lusail, Qatar. يحدث! It’s on!