THERE have been a few thrilling final days in Scottish football over the years, but the denouement to Ladbrokes Premiership this weekend promises to be as dramatic as any of them.

The winners of the title may well have been known long ago, but, after the last meeting of the 2017/18 campaign between Aberdeen and Rangers finished level, who comes second and secures the automatic European spots remains undecided.

Should Hibernian defeat or draw with their city rivals Hearts in the Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle this evening then all three clubs will go into their final league fixture on Sunday with everything to play for.

With Aberdeen taking on Celtic at Parkhead and Hibs hosting Rangers at Easter Road – get on your hard hats for that one – it is far too close to call.

Rangers, who cancelled out a first-half Kenny McLean penalty with a second-half Ross McCrorie goal, failed to complete a grand slam of victories over Aberdeen this season.

But they will, given the off-field turmoil they have once again endured, just be grateful to have the chance to finish as the best of the rest.

Interim manager Jimmy Nicholl made one change to the Rangers starting line-up which took to the field against Kilmarnock at Ibrox on Saturday. McCrorie replaced Jason Cummings, just as he had at half-time at the weekend, in a more defensive formation.

His opposite number Derek McInnes, meanwhile, made three alterations to the side that had drawn with Hibernian three days earlier. Out went Stevie May, Mark Reynolds and the injured Niall McGinn and in came Ryan Christie, Andrew Considine Kenny McLean.

Rangers certainly started brightly. They carved out for first chance in the fifth minute following neat interchange of passes down the right flank involving Daniel Candeias and Graham Dorrans. Alfredo Morelos was the beneficiary. The lone striker, though, shot straight at Joe Lewis. His night was to quickly get worse.

Match official Steven McLean ruled that the Rangers forward had barged over Aberdeen midfielder Steven McLean after a Ryan Christie corner broke to the edge of his penalty box eight minutes later and pointed to the spot.

McLean - who will depart for Norwich City, the English Championship club he signed for in January, after the final game of the season this weekend - stepped forward to take it himself and made no mistake. He placed it to the left as goalkeeper Jak Alnwick dived the other way.

It was a typically feisty encounter between these two bitter rivals. David Bates, the Rangers centre half, was the first to get booked. He tripped Graeme Shinnie, the Aberdeen midfielder, as he sprinted away from him and towards goal.

McLean also showed yellow cards to Sam Cosgrove, the Aberdeen striker, and Graham Dorrans, Andy Halliday and Jason Holt, the Rangers midfielders, in an opening 45 minutes that was high on full-blooded challenges, but decidedly low on silky football. Dorrans left the field shortly after having his name taken and was replaced by Sean Goss.

Nicholl, who stepped up after Graeme Murty departed, has only been in charge for little over a week, but it is not difficult to see the difference he has made during that time. The sort of aggression the visitors exhibited was conspicuous in its absence in the heavy defeats to Celtic last week. There is, however, only so much the Northern Irishman can do with the limited and demoralised group he has inherited.

Scotland internationalist McLean provided a rare moment of real quality just after the half hour mark when has had he rifled a long-range shot at goal. It flew past Alnwick only to rebound back off the crossbar. He also had a shot saved four minutes before half-time. Nobody could accuse him of not caring or not trying even though his future lies elsewhere.

Morelos - who before last night had just score once, in a 4-0 drubbing of Dundee at home last month, in nine games – was another whose desire couldn’t be criticised. He worked tirelessly to restore parity. He forced a fine save from Lewis with a downward header when he got on the end of a James Tavernier delivery in the 57th minute.

Rangers were gifted an equaliser by their hosts just six minutes after that near thing. Scott McKenna headed a Moreloss chip into his own box high into the air. But the centre half was caught dozing by McCrorie as he waited for it to come down. His opponent outjumped him and nodded into the bottom right corner.

Nicholl threw on Cummings for Holt and Rangers looked the likelier of the two teams to snatch a winner. Goss, McKenna, Morelos and Shinnie all had their names taken in the closing stages.