Aberdeen repaid manager Derek McInnes for rejecting an approach from Rangers with a hard-working win over Dundee.
The home side had the better first-half chances, with Roarie Deacon forcing a couple of good saves from Joe Lewis.
But Aberdeen edged into the lead shortly after the break when Scott McKenna got an outstretched toe to Kenny McLean’s low cross.
Lewis again did well to deny Sofien Moussa before the Dons survived late pressure to move back into second spot.
- ‘Nothing to be guilty about’ – McInnes
McInnes had been Rangers’ primary target to replace Pedro Caixinha, and his side had lost their past two games – both to the Glasgow outfit – to drop behind the Ibrox side on goal difference.
But, by ending Dundee’s three-game unbeaten run, they move above McInnes’ suitors, four points behind champions Celtic – at least until the Old Firm duo play over the weekend.
It also continues the Dark Blues’ miserable record against the visitors – the Dons are now unbeaten in their past 11 meetings and have won the past eight – and they drop behind Kilmarnock on goal difference into 10th place.
With McInnes and his side roared on by more than 2,000 fans who made their way down the A90 to support their team, they started the game on the front foot. Graeme Shinnie’s powerful effort whistled past the left-hand post before Andrew Considine volleyed weakly straight at goalkeeper Elliott Parish.
Despite dominating the early possession, the visitors could and probably should have fallen behind.
Deacon found himself clean through on goal after collecting a knock-on from Moussa, but the winger’s netbound effort was blocked by Lewis’ left foot.
With Dundee growing in confidence, Deacon collected the ball from Faissal el Bhakhtaoui on the edge of the box, twisted and turned but had his rifled shot stopped once again by the impressive Lewis.
McInnes made a change at the break, with veteran Iceland defender Kari Arnason replacing Frank Ross, the 19-year-old winger handed his first start after scoring against Rangers last weekend, and Aberdeen soon made the breakthrough, although there was little skill involved.
McLean collected a poor clearance, the midfielder mishit his cross into the box and defender McKenna stuck out his boot to deflect the ball beyond Parish into the bottom corner.
While it will not win any goal of the season awards, it will never be forgotten by the 21-year-old as it was his first for the club.
The home side responded and claims for a penalty from the Dark Blues support were ignored by referee Nick Walsh as left-back Jon Aurtenetxe tumbled to the ground under pressure from Greg Stewart, then Moussa had a downward header turned wide by Lewis.
Already booked Aberdeen right-back Shay Logan was living a charmed life but escaped with a stern talking-to by referee Walsh for a couple of hefty challenges.
Dundee were beginning to pin the Dons back, but the visitors should have wrapped up the points when Shinnie could only curl his effort from 12 yards into the arms of Parish.
Aurtenetxe’s chip from eight yards over the advancing Lewis drifted wide and the final whistle came immediately after Ryan Christie cleared off the line as the ball was bundled towards the visitors’ goal from a corner.
Match ends, Dundee 0, Aberdeen 1.
Second Half ends, Dundee 0, Aberdeen 1.
Corner, Dundee. Conceded by Andrew Considine.
Attempt blocked. Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Dundee) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Cammy Kerr (Dundee) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Greg Stewart (Aberdeen).
Corner, Dundee. Conceded by Anthony O’Connor.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Mark O’Hara (Dundee) because of an injury.
Attempt blocked. Cammy Kerr (Dundee) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.
Attempt missed. Shaleum Logan (Aberdeen) right footed shot from the right side of the box is too high.
Substitution, Dundee. Kerr Waddell replaces Josh Meekings.
Attempt saved. Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
Substitution, Dundee. A-Jay Leitch-Smith replaces Roarie Deacon.
Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Aurtenetxe.
Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Josh Meekings.
Attempt blocked. Anthony O’Connor (Aberdeen) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Cammy Kerr (Dundee) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Cammy Kerr (Dundee).
Ryan Christie (Aberdeen) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Josh Meekings (Dundee).
Greg Stewart (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Dundee. Conceded by Kenny McLean.
Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Glen Kamara.
Attempt blocked. Greg Stewart (Aberdeen) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Roarie Deacon (Dundee) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen).
Sofien Moussa (Dundee) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Shaleum Logan (Aberdeen).
Scott Allan (Dundee) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Shaleum Logan (Aberdeen).
Substitution, Dundee. Scott Allan replaces Paul McGowan.
Kenny McLean (Aberdeen) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Mark O’Hara (Dundee) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Kenny McLean (Aberdeen).
Glen Kamara (Dundee) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Kenny McLean (Aberdeen) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Glen Kamara (Dundee).
Attempt missed. Josh Meekings (Dundee) header from the centre of the box misses to the left following a corner.
Corner, Dundee. Conceded by Joe Lewis.