Dundee have been officially consigned to the Scottish Premiership’s bottom two after defeat by Aberdeen.
It leaves Mark McGhee’s side five points behind second-bottom St Johnstone – and 13 adrift of Aberdeen and St Mirren – with three games left.
Lewis Ferguson’s second-half penalty settled the game after Dundee had the better of a thrilling first half.
Two good saves from Joe Lewis denied the visitors while Calvin Ramsay headed off the home goalline.
Ending their run of two straight home defeats and beating Dundee at Pittodrie for the eighth game in a row means Aberdeen cannot now finish bottom and are eight clear of St Johnstone.
Defeat after three consecutive draws leaves Dundee still waiting for a victory in 11 games since McGhee succeeded James McPake as manager.
- Reaction & as it happened
There were no threats of going naked this week from McGhee should his side claim that first win. But his side revealed in full their collective belief in their ability to escape relegation despite a shaky start at Pittodrie.
Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin said he had picked as attacking a line-up as he could for what he viewed as a game that could all but secure their Premiership status and they showed their own intent right from kick-off.
Restored to the side, striker Christian Ramirez tapped the ball to Ferguson and the Scotland midfielder launched a long-range looping shot over the head of Harrison Sharp and on to the roof of the net. Dundee’s 21-year-old goalkeeper was almost caught off his line as his third first-team appearance started nervously.
He wasn’t the only one, with Aberdeen’s bright start soon overshadowed by defending that all too often left the home support with heads in hands.
Fine saves from Lewis denied Danny Mullen and Paul McMullan as Aberdeen were twice caught in possession, while Paul McGowan had cries for a penalty waved away by referee Willie Collum as another effort looked to strike a home arm.
A couple of Ramirez though balls put Aberdeen on the front foot after the break, but home calls for a penalty were denied as Jack MacKenzie was tackled by Cammy Kerr then Vicente Besuijen prodded wide.
Ramsay had to head a Ryan Sweeney header off the line at the other end, while visiting goalkeeper Sharp got down low to save well from Ramirez.
Aberdeen finally got the penalty they had craved when left-back Jordan Marshall’s lazy leg upended Jonny Hayes and Ferguson slotted his 16th goal of the season.
There was still time for Josh Mulligan to head a chance of an equaliser wastefully over as Dundee are left in a head-to-head with St Johnstone to settle automatic relegation spot and the play-off spot.
Man of the match – Jonny Hayes
What did we learn?
It was hardly surprising that there was little to choose between two sides who have failed to reignite their seasons despite changing managers in February.
Aberdeen went into this game with just one win in 14 since beating Dundee 2-1 on their last visit to Pittodrie on 26 December – and have only two victories in eight since Goodwin took over two days after McGhee.
They are all but safe from relegation now thanks to a second-half improvement, but their defensive frailties were in evidence once again.
There was enough in Dundee’s performance to suggest they could yet catch St Johnstone, but they are fast running out of games and must rely on the Perth side crumbling under the pressure if they are to produce a great escape.
Charlie Adam’s angry reaction to being substituted also hints that not all is well between manager and the veteran midfield playmaker.
What they said
Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin: “There was a bit of tension and anxiety in both sets of players, but today was all about the result. I felt that, if we could keep a clean sheet, we would win – I fancied us to score, albeit I would have liked it to come from open play.
“Joe Lewis has had to make a couple of really good saves, but I feel that in the second half we were in control for the majority of it. And I thought it was only a matter of time before that goal came.”
Dundee manager Mark McGhee: “In the first half in particular, the passing, the movement, the energy, were everything I had hoped for. What we didn’t do today was we didn’t take our chances, but that’s an improvement even though we have not won the game.
“St Johnstone have let us off the hook again and, with three games to go, we’re only five points behind them and I think, looking at the games, on paper this was the hardest. We can take confidence into these other games and maybe win a game.”
Aberdeen visit Hibernian next Saturday (15:00 BST), while St Mirren are Dundee’s hosts at the same time.
- Match Stats
- Live Text
- 10BesuijenBooked at 30mins
- 9RamírezSubstituted forJenksat 69′minutes
- 17HayesSubstituted forMontgomeryat 77′minutes
- 2KerrSubstituted forDaley-Campbellat 89′minutes
- 24AndersonSubstituted forMcCowanat 69′minutes
- 26AdamSubstituted forMulliganat 52′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 77McGinnSubstituted forRuddenat 68′minutes
- William Collum
- Shots on Target
Match ends, Aberdeen 1, Dundee 0.
Second Half ends, Aberdeen 1, Dundee 0.
Declan Gallagher (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jordan McGhee (Dundee).
Josh Mulligan (Dundee) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Jack MacKenzie (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Josh Mulligan (Dundee).
Foul by Vicente Besuijen (Aberdeen).
Jordan Marshall (Dundee) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Vicente Besuijen (Aberdeen) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Ryan Sweeney (Dundee).
Substitution, Dundee. Vontae Daley-Campbell replaces Cammy Kerr.
Attempt saved. Daniel Mullen (Dundee) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Zak Rudden.
Attempt missed. Josh Mulligan (Dundee) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Luke McCowan with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Dundee. Conceded by Declan Gallagher.
Hand ball by Calvin Ramsay (Aberdeen).
Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Paul McMullan (Dundee).
Foul by Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen).
Cammy Kerr (Dundee) wins a free kick in the defensive half.