Aberdeen ended a run of three consecutive defeats to give themselves a boost ahead of next weekend's Scottish Cup semi-final.
Darren Mackie ended their run of three games without a goal by chipping over Dusan Pernis after eight minutes.
Dundee United skipper Jon Daly volleyed in his 21st goal of the season to equalise after 29 minutes.
But Chris Clark pounced on a Pernis error after 68 minutes and Ryan Jack headed in 10 minutes later.
Jack and Stephen Hughes were passed fit to start, so Kari Arnason and Peter Pawlett dropped to the bench.
Dundee United were unchanged as they looked to record their seventh consecutive league win.
United had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down after only eight minutes when Clark Robertson looked to have tripped midfielder Scott Robertson in the box, but referee Calum Murray waved play on.
The home side took full advantage of that decision going in their favour by opening the scoring four minutes later when Mackie showed great skill to dink the ball over Pernis.
John Rankin curled the ball over the crossbar from the edge of the area after 22 minutes as the visitors tried to get back on level terms.
United almost gifted Aberdeen a second when Willo Flood's careless back pass went straight to Hughes, but the former Motherwell midfielder's powerful shot was turned wide by Pernis.
Flood recovered from that mistake to supply the corner that fell to the unmarked Daly, who smashed the ball on the volley low past Aberdeen goalkeeper Jason Brown.
The Dons had a chance to regain their advantage just before the break when Clark's deep cross picked out Mackie, but the striker was unable to direct his header on target.
Clark was the man to benefit when the normally reliable Pernis fumbled a harmless cross and the Dons midfielder rolled the ball into the empty net.
As United pressed forward, the Dons squandered a chance to put the game beyond their opponents when Jack broke clear and found Mackie, who rolled the ball into the path of Scott Vernon only for the striker to delay his shot and allow the ball to be cleared.
But Aberdeen did go further ahead when Jack rose to powerfully head home a Clark cross.
There was still time for Jack to fire into the side-netting on the break as the Dons looked to extend their lead.
Aberdeen manager Craig Brown: "I thought the first 20 minutes and the last half an hour were as well as we have played this season against arguably the best team in the country at the moment.
"I have got to admit that I think we were fortunate for the second goal. We got the breaks, although our goalkeeper didn't have a save to make during the match.
"I have been saying that quite often but today we managed to score at the other end which made the difference.
"I was pleased with the whole team and I won't single anyone out. The players were up for the fixture and it gives us a major selection problem for next week (Scottish Cup semi-final), which is a very good problem to have."
Dundee United manager Peter Houston: "It was an off day but there were pivotal moments that could have changed the match.
"In the first half I thought we were denied a stonewall penalty and I just don't understand the reason the officials gave our players when they told them it was an accident.
"I think most fouls are accidents with players just going in too late, but on this occasion he clipped his heels as he was about to shoot so I thought we were denied a stonewall penalty.
"Secondly, Dusan Pernis, who has been great for us, made an uncharacteristic error in giving them a tap-in.
"I'm frustrated and annoyed and I know the players will be as well as we have set ourselves high standards because of the run we are on."
- 32 Brown
- 02 McArdle
- 03 Reynolds
- 06 Considine Booked (Anderson - 55' )
- 13 Robertson
- 07 Clark Booked
- 20 Hughes (Arnason - 74' )
- 22 Jack
- 28 Rae
- 09 Vernon
- 10 Mackie Booked (Fyvie - 84' )
- 01 Langfield
- 27 Anderson
- 11 Arnason
- 17 Fyvie
- 14 Fallon
- 21 Magennis
- 23 Megginson
- 01 Pernis
- 02 Dillon
- 03 Dixon
- 18 Gunning
- 26 Neilson
- 06 Flood (Armstrong - 71' )
- 08 Robertson (Ryan - 80' )
- 11 Rankin
- 17 Mackay-Steven (Swanson - 71' )
- 09 Daly
- 15 Russell
- 13 Banks
- 05 Kenneth
- 12 Watson
- 14 Douglas
- 07 Ryan
- 10 Swanson
- 16 Armstrong
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.90:00 +2:08
Richie Ryan takes a corner.90:00 +0:42
Ryan Jack gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Stuart Armstrong. Paul Dixon delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left channel, clearance by Russell Anderson.88:18
Ryan Jack has an effort at goal from outside the area which goes wide right of the goal.87:24
Johnny Russell gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jason Brown. Jason Brown takes the free kick.86:41
Foul by Russell Anderson on Johnny Russell, free kick awarded. Paul Dixon crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance by Clark Robertson.86:07
The ball is crossed by Danny Swanson, clearance by Rory McArdle.85:39
Paul Dixon sends in a cross, clearance made by Mark Reynolds.84:24
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Fraser Fyvie, A cross is delivered by Ryan Jack, clearance by Jon Daly.84:20
Kari Arnason produces a cross, John Rankin gets a block in.83:01 Substitution
Substitution Fraser Fyvie joins the action as a substitute, replacing Darren Mackie.82:19
Paul Dixon crosses the ball, save by Jason Brown.81:50
Foul by Gavin Rae on Stuart Armstrong, free kick awarded. Sean Dillon takes the direct free kick.81:27
John Rankin concedes a free kick for a foul on Russell Anderson. Jason Brown takes the free kick.81:06
The assistant referee flags for offside against Darren Mackie. Gavin Gunning restarts play with the free kick.79:46 Substitution
Substitution Richie Ryan joins the action as a substitute, replacing Scott Robertson.77:49
Assist on the goal came from Kari Arnason.77:49 Goal scored
Goal! - Ryan Jack - Aberdeen 3 - 1 Dundee U Ryan Jack grabs a headed goal from inside the six-yard box. Aberdeen 3-1 Dundee Utd.76:56
Free kick awarded for a foul by Gavin Gunning on Scott Vernon. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Mark Reynolds, clearance made by Gavin Gunning.76:22
Ryan Jack crosses the ball, Gavin Gunning makes a clearance.
Clearance by Johnny Russell.73:42 Substitution
Substitution Stephen Hughes leaves the field to be replaced by Kari Arnason.73:42
Corner taken by Ryan Jack from the right by-line played to the near post,72:17
Gavin Rae gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Scott Robertson. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Paul Dixon from left wing, save made by Jason Brown.70:42 Substitution
Substitution (Dundee Utd) makes a substitution, with Danny Swanson coming on for Gary Mackay-Steven.70:42 Substitution
Substitution Willo Flood goes off and Stuart Armstrong comes on.69:59
Scott Vernon takes a shot. Save made by Dusan Pernis.68:58
Free kick crossed by Paul Dixon, Rory McArdle makes a clearance.68:58 Booking
Booking The referee books Chris Clark for unsporting behaviour.68:39
Chris Clark challenges Willo Flood unfairly and gives away a free kick.67:29
Assist by Rory McArdle.67:29 Goal scored
Goal! - Chris Clark - Aberdeen 2 - 1 Dundee U Chris Clark finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the penalty area low into the middle of the goal. Aberdeen 2-1 Dundee Utd.67:23
Rory McArdle produces a cross,67:14
Chris Clark sends in a cross, Sean Dillon makes a clearance.66:08
Ryan Jack takes the outswinging corner, clearance by Gavin Gunning.63:35
Dusan Pernis takes the direct free kick.63:35 Booking
Booking Booking for Darren Mackie.63:24
Sean Dillon fouled by Darren Mackie, the ref awards a free kick.62:40
Clark Robertson produces a cross, Ryan Jack has an effort at goal. Save by Dusan Pernis.62:33
A cross is delivered by Gavin Rae, clearance by Scott Robertson.60:56
Ryan Jack challenges Gary Mackay-Steven unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Paul Dixon.59:22
The assistant referee flags for offside against Darren Mackie. Direct free kick taken by Dusan Pernis.56:42
Unfair challenge on Clark Robertson by John Rankin results in a free kick. Stephen Hughes shoots direct from the free kick.56:13
Ryan Jack takes the outswinging corner, Gavin Gunning manages to make a clearance.56:08
Scott Vernon sends in a cross, blocked by Gavin Gunning.54:34
Willo Flood fouled by Clark Robertson, the ref awards a free kick. Paul Dixon crosses the ball, Gavin Gunning produces a header from close range which goes wide of the left-hand upright.54:10 Substitution
Substitution Russell Anderson is brought on as a substitute for Andrew Considine.53:44
The ball is sent over by Chris Clark, clearance made by Paul Dixon.49:24
Chris Clark produces a cross, Darren Mackie takes a shot. Save by Dusan Pernis.49:12
Ryan Jack produces a cross, Sean Dillon manages to make a clearance.48:59
The ball is swung over by Ryan Jack, John Rankin gets a block in.48:43
John Rankin is caught offside. Free kick taken by Rory McArdle.48:10
The ball is delivered by John Rankin, save made by Jason Brown.46:28
Andrew Considine challenges Jon Daly unfairly and gives away a free kick. Strike comes in from Paul Dixon from the free kick.45:01
The game restarts for the second half.45:00 +1:09 Half time
Half Time The referee blows for half time.45:00 +0:40
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Gary Mackay-Steven by Andrew Considine. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Willo Flood from left wing.45:00 +0:20 Booking
Booking Andrew Considine is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.44:26
Jon Daly challenges Andrew Considine unfairly and gives away a free kick. Andrew Considine restarts play with the free kick.41:43
Darren Mackie is ruled offside. Dusan Pernis takes the direct free kick.38:54
Rory McArdle gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gary Mackay-Steven. Free kick taken by Paul Dixon, Willo Flood delivers the ball, save by Jason Brown.38:43
The ball is swung over by Gary Mackay-Steven, clearance by Rory McArdle.38:01
Foul by Darren Mackie on Sean Dillon, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Sean Dillon.36:30
The ball is sent over by Paul Dixon, clearance made by Gavin Rae.36:14
Willo Flood delivers the ball, clearance by Andrew Considine.35:00
Unfair challenge on Chris Clark by Willo Flood results in a free kick. Jason Brown restarts play with the free kick.33:58
The assistant referee signals for offside against Darren Mackie. Gavin Gunning takes the free kick.32:56
Free kick awarded for a foul by Gary Mackay-Steven on Rory McArdle. Jason Brown takes the direct free kick.32:06
Andrew Considine challenges Jon Daly unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Willo Flood.31:39
Unfair challenge on Gavin Gunning by Scott Vernon results in a free kick. Dusan Pernis restarts play with the free kick.31:29
Scott Vernon delivers the ball, clearance by Scott Robertson.30:50
The assistant referee flags for offside against Jon Daly. Free kick taken by Jason Brown.30:29
Handball decision goes against Chris Clark. Free kick taken by Sean Dillon.29:13
Rory McArdle produces a cross, Gavin Gunning manages to make a clearance.28:05
Willo Flood provided the assist for the goal.28:05 Goal scored
Goal! - Jon Daly - Aberdeen 1 - 1 Dundee U Jon Daly fires in a goal from inside the box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Aberdeen 1-1 Dundee Utd.27:41
Willo Flood takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post,27:04
The ball is crossed by Willo Flood, blocked by Clark Robertson.25:27
Ryan Jack gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gary Mackay-Steven. Gavin Gunning restarts play with the free kick.24:58
Ryan Jack takes a short corner.23:45
Free kick awarded for a foul by Rory McArdle on Gary Mackay-Steven. Free kick crossed right-footed by Willo Flood, Mark Reynolds makes a clearance.23:20
Outswinging corner taken by Ryan Jack from the right by-line, save by Dusan Pernis.22:51
Shot by Stephen Hughes. Dusan Pernis makes a save.21:32
Shot from just outside the box by John Rankin goes over the bar.21:10
Corner taken right-footed by Willo Flood to the near post, save made by Jason Brown.20:54
The ball is swung over by Rory McArdle, blocked by Johnny Russell.19:02
Free kick awarded for a foul by Willo Flood on Clark Robertson. Direct free kick taken by Mark Reynolds.16:51
Chris Clark takes the inswinging corner, Robbie Neilson manages to make a clearance.15:39
Gary Mackay-Steven takes a corner.14:12
Jon Daly fouled by Scott Vernon, the ref awards a free kick. Dusan Pernis restarts play with the free kick.13:52
Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Ryan Jack, clearance by Jon Daly.13:46
A cross is delivered by Ryan Jack, clearance by Gavin Gunning.11:07
The assist for the goal came from Stephen Hughes.11:07 Goal scored
Goal! - Darren Mackie - Aberdeen 1 - 0 Dundee U A goal is scored by Darren Mackie from inside the area high into the middle of the goal. Aberdeen 1-0 Dundee Utd.10:24
Shot by Scott Vernon. Blocked by Gavin Gunning. Outswinging corner taken by Ryan Jack,9:04
The referee penalises Stephen Hughes for handball. Free kick taken by John Rankin.7:11
Foul by Mark Reynolds on Johnny Russell, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Paul Dixon.5:43
Gary Mackay-Steven is caught offside. Rory McArdle takes the direct free kick.4:14
The ball is crossed by Clark Robertson, Gavin Gunning makes a clearance.4:03
Ryan Jack sends in a cross.2:34
Clark Robertson challenges Willo Flood unfairly and gives away a free kick. Sean Dillon takes the direct free kick.0:00
The match begins.
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