A warm Pittodrie welcomed both teams on for the first new firm derby of the season. With both teams having an indifferent start to the season, a crucial three points were up for grabs.
In the 6th minute Dods climbed over the top of Miller conceding a free kick on the edge of the box. Miller himself took the kick and when the ball broke off the defensive wall it deflected into the path of McDonald six yards out who should have done better than to blaze over.
The tricky Aluko was next to threaten with a run in the 8th minute that was halted illegally by Kovacevic. Mulgrew's outswinging free kick from out wide on the left was headed over the bar at the back post from the onrushing Severin.
It was an impressive opening by Aberdeen although Dundee United almost opened the scoring aganist the run of play in the 10th minute. Robertson broke forward from midfield before releasing Conway out wide on the left. His inch perfect cross was met at the back post by Sandaza who should have done better than to screw wide.The game was scrappy with both teams failing to hold on to the ball and quality from set pieces also at a premium.
Sandaza broke clear down the right in the 26th minute but his dangerous cross was headed inches over the bar by a relieved Severin. Robertson then tried his luck from the edge of the box in 34 minutes after Macdonald's pressurised clearance had dropped at his feet, but his drive went high past Langfield's left hand post.
Wilkie became the first name in the referee's book for persistant fouling after pulling down Miller in the 40th minute. Aberdeen almost took the lead on the stroke of half time when Maguire found space in the box. His low left foot shot was saved well by Zaluska and the ball was cleared by the United defence before Wright could pounce.
Dundee United started the second half brighter and in the 46th minute Sandaza's drilled left foot shot had Langfield scrambling to turn the ball past the post for a corner. Conway took the resultant corner and as Wright rose from a packed box the referee deemed him to have used a hand to clear the danger and a penalty was given. Sandaza cooly stepped up to take the kick and he sent Langfield the wrong way to give United the lead.
In the 48th minute Maguire released Foster out on the right. The full back's cross was cleared over bar by Wilkie. Mulgrew's resultant corner broke to Aluko and when he delivered a cross back in to the box Zaluska gathered and the danger was averted.
Aberdeen looked ragged after conceding the goal and in the 49th minute Daly's through ball sent Sandaza clear in on goal. Severin got back to put the Spaniard off and Langfield was able to collect. A minute later Sandaza found space again on the right and his cross found Daly all alone at the back post. His acrobatic effort was high and wide from 6 yards out and Aberdeen survived.
Aberdeen started to come back into the game and neat build up play in the 53rd minute from Foster found McDonald. He in turn played in Miller whose curling shot from the edge of the box drifted just wide.
Wright was then caught accidentaly by Conway in the 55th minute although after treatment on his knee his was able to continue. Mackie then replaced Wright as Calderwood looked to offer an alternative attacking threat.
In the 66th minute Kerr was booked for a deliberate off the ball trip on Conway and with the break in proceedings De Visscher replaced Aluko who was struggling to recover from a knock.
A 70th minute Mulgrew corner was met by the head of Miller but the United defence managed to block the ball on the line before Mackie could swoop. A Mulgrew corner minutes later found Diamond whose header flashed accross goal eluding Mackie who could only help the ball out for a goal kick.
Aberdeen were putting pressure on United looking for an elusive equaliser and when Severin found Mulgrew in the 74th minute his cross was cleared as far as de Visscher on the edge of the box. The dutchman's left foot effort was cleared out for a corner. Aberdeen made their final change in the 75th minute when Young replaced Maguire on the left hand side of midfield.
In the 85th minute Langfield's long clearance was knocked on by Miller to the feet of McDonald but his half volley was easily smothered by Zaluska. Dundee United tried to close the game out and run the clock down by replacing Conway with Swanson and a minute later replacing goalscorer Sandaza with Goodwillie. Goodwillie's first contribution was to go into the book after a tangle with Diamond.
As injury time was played out Levein made his final change with Kenneth replacing Wilkie. The referee called time on a evenly matched contest where only a penalty could seperate the teams and hand a cruical three points for Dundee United to take back down to Tayside.
Team: Langfield, Mulgrew, Foster, McDonald, Diamond, Severin, Kerr, Miller, Wright (Mackie 58) Maguire (Young 75) Aluko (de Visscher 66)
Subs: Bossu, Hodgkiss, Mair, Stu Smith