Rangers manager Walter Smith paid tribute to striker Nikica Jelavic after his stunning strike gave the Ibrox side a hard-fought win over a stubborn Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

The Croatian scored the only goal of a feisty encounter with an acrobatic overhead kick to narrow Celtic's lead at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League to two points.

Smith said: "It was a terrific goal. We are delighted to get any goal when you are away from home but that was something special from him. The most important thing was that it was the winner."

He added: "The games are coming thick and fast at the moment and like quite a few of our players Nikica hasn't been at full match fitness over the season and we haven't yet seen the best of him overall.

"I think that is still to come. He will gain that through his pre-season training next year but at the moment he is doing very well for us and his goals have been terrific."

 

Aberdeen had won five of their past nine home matches against the Ibrox side prior to this clash and Smith was delighted that his side have reversed that trend by winning on both trips to the Granite City this term.

The Rangers boss added: "I was obviously delighted to win the game as this is always a difficult place for us to come and get a result. To win two games here in a season is an unusual situation for us.

"Aberdeen had an up and down start to the season but they have settled and Craig (Brown) and Archie (Knox) have them playing extremely well. We had to work extremely hard and I'm delighted we managed to win."

But it was not all good news for the Rangers manager as he revealed that Vladimir Weiss and Kirk Broadfoot will both miss the remainder of the season through injury.

Smith added: "It will be next season before Vladimir comes back and Kirk has a hairline fracture in his heel. He is not having a great deal of luck in terms of injuries and it will be next season before he is back as well."

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