Aberdeen continued their fine recent record against Dundee United at Pittodrie as a Calvin Zola goal early in the second half was enough for the Dons to claim the three points.
After defeat in Dingwall before the international break, Derek McInnes made several changes to the side. Injured duo Russell Anderson and Willo Flood started the match as did Calvin Zola- replacing Michael Hector, Cammy Smith and Scott Vernon respectively. Barry Robson also made it on to the Dons bench for the first time since his injury on the opening day of the season.
The Dons started the game well and when Paul Paton handled the ball in the 2nd minute, referee Bobby Madden awarded the home side a free kick. Ryan Jack swung a dangerous cross into the box and Russell Anderson nearly got a head on it before United cleared. The Dons picked up again though and won an early corner which was played n by Hayes but Zola couldn't get close to it.
On 8 minutes David Goodwillie took up a good position between Anderson & Reynolds but he went beyond them too quickly and was flagged offside. Seconds later Andrew Considine was booked for tugging the shirt of Ryan Gauld.
Neither side could keep the ball for any length of time but on 11 minutes the visitors did manage to string a few passes together- eventually resulting in a shot from John Rankin which was on target but took a deflection off Mark Reynolds and skimmed by the post.
At the other end United nearly caused their own problems when a terrible pass back from Gunning to Cierzniak left the keeper struggling and Calvin Zola attempted to intercept but was just beaten to it.
Joe Shaughnessy then received an unjust yellow card. As Ciftci broke over the half way line, the Irishman held the Turks jersey. A foul, yes but not a booking so early in the game.
On 24 minutes Jack played the ball to Hayes who fired a magnificent ball across the field towards McGinn. He drove towards the edge of the box and then crossed into the danger area but there were no Dons players around and the ball went out for a goal kick.
Stuart Armstrong fired in a left footed shot which went well wide of the post on the half hour mark but a minute later it was the home side who were on the attack and they won a throw. The ball that came into the box was poorly headed away by Gauld and landed neatly for Hayes who fired a powerful shot at goal which Cierzniak had to palm away for a corner. 2 minutes later, from a free kick, Shaughnessy got a slight touch before McGinn raced in at the back post but he couldn't make any connection with the cross and it went out for a goal kick.
United then created their best chance of the match on 36 minutes. From a corner the ball was bouncing around the Dons penalty area and it eventually bounced nicely for Keith Watson to attempt a half scissor kick but he pushed the shot wide.
Referee Madden had consistently given fouls against Calvin Zola in the first period- on many occasions unjustly- but on 42 minutes the Congolese striker was awarded one in his favour. McGinn stepped up and curled a decent effort at goal but Cierzniak saved comfortably low to his left.
H T 0-0
Aberdeen made a great start to the second half and enjoyed some lengthy spells of possession which led to a couple of corner kicks but they couldn't take advantage from either. Then United raced up the park and nearly benefited when Mark Reynolds missed a cross into the box but fortunately no one was there for the visitors.
On 53 minutes the Dons made the breakthrough. Good play from Pawlett saw him spread the ball out to the left for McGinn who produced a perfect low driven cross which Gunning decided not to clear and Zola pounced to touch the ball beyond Cierzniak into the net to the delight of the Red Army.
The referee then incurred the wrath of the United players when an Armstrong shot took a deflection off an Aberdeen player and went out of play but the referee saw nothing and awarded the Dons a goal kick instead.
Barry Robson made his long awaited return from injury on 65' minutes when he replaced Shaughnessy who had received that earlier caution. The change saw Ryan Jack move to right back with Robson joining Flood in midfield.
Dundee United began to up the tempo as they searched for an equaliser and on 72 minutes they should have been level. After a bit of panic in the Dons defence the ball was played in to Goodwillie by substitute Gary Mackay-Steven and he looked odds on to score but hesitated and eventually Langfield rushed out to block the weak effort.
A few minutes later United were on the attack again and Anderson was booked for a challenge on Cifftci on the edge of the box. The free kick was fired high over the bar by the Turk.
Goalscorer Zola was then replaced by Scott Vernon before Hector replaced Ryan Jack with 10 minutes remaining. As the Dons attempted to wind down the clock, Langfield was booked for time wasting.
With 3 minutes left United should have equalised when Watson headed just over from a corner kick. The final attack of the game came after the referee failed to award a free kick for foul on Robson but immediately blew for a foul by Anderson on Cifftci. Brian Graham fired the free kick miles over the bar and moments later the final whistle went to give the Dons all three points.