Following Wednesday's League cup quarter-final win over Partick Thistle, Jim Goodwin made three changes to his starting XI. Jayden Richardson, Jack MacKenzie and Connor Barron all started, replacing Matty Kennedy and Vicente Besuijen, who started from the bench, and Hayden Coulson who missed out for family reasons.
Motherwell lost 4-0 home to Celtic on Wednesday in the League Cup and made one change to their starting side, Ross Tierney coming in for Connor Shields who dropped to the bench.
The perfect start for the Dons came with Bojan Miovski brilliantly chipping the advancing goalkeeper from 25 yards out after being played neatly through by Barron on four minutes. The flag went up and we stood around for two minutes as we waited for VAR to rule for the first time in our history. Eventually we were allowed to celebrate, the striker clearly onside for his first goal away from Pittodrie.
Duk has the ball in the net on 13, Liam Scales bending a terrific ball in from the left touchline. Duk saw his first shot blocked by Kelly before knocking in the rebound, but VAR was called upon again, and this time the offside decision stood.
Aberdeen had a real escape on the quarter hour. Kelle Roos came out to collect a Motherwell ball forward, but as he slid onto it towards the edge of the area, the ball bounced off his chest and into the feet of van Veen. Fortunately, the Dutchman took a real swing at it and pulled it across goal and wide when he really should have guided the ball home to score.
Richardson nearly had his first Aberdeen goal on 23 minutes. Leighton Clarkson barrelled forward on the counter-attack after good work from Miovski and he picked out Richardson at the back post. The wing-back came inside and pulled the trigger, only to have the shot well blocked by Penney. It had certainly been a very promising first quarter of the game from the travelling Dons.
On 29 minutes, Tierney broke into the box with Ylber Ramadani alongside him. Tierney hurled himself to the turf, turning to look for the referee as he fell, looking for a penalty, but referee Anderson waved away the claims and rightly so. No VAR required this time. A couple of minutes later, a leaping Spittal won a powerful header from an Anthony Stewart clearance but fortunately, he put it into the side netting.
Duk was booked on 33 minutes, a harsh decision after he chased back to try to win the ball back after losing it. It was barely a foul, never mind a card.
Tierney was nearly in after 39 minutes, collecting a square ball from van Veen, Ross McCrorie coming across to clear for a corner as the Steelmen finally started to ask a question or two of the Dons' defence.
A run forward for Duk saw him baulked twice, Lamie getting carded as he stepped across to end the run, his pace and strength causing all kinds of issues for the Motherwell defenders. He was in again as the first half entered added time, driving in a low shot from the edge of the area, Kelly doing well to get down to his left to shovel the ball to safety.
HALF-TIME: MOTHERWELL 0 ABERDEEN 1
There was a change for the hosts at the break, Shields on for Tierney.
Duk had a great chance in the 48th minute, Richardson doing well to get into the box and ride a tackle after Miovski's backheel set him away. His cross was into Duk around the penalty spot but his header back across goal was just wide of the target.
Miovski was booked on 52 minutes for pulling Goss to the ground as he looked to run away from him.
Duk was set on the run again a minute later, Miovski sending him away. Closing in on goal, the ball wouldn't quite sit for him and the chance was gone, the ball just running away from him. Spittal was then in the book for a hack on MacKenzie.
Motherwell were level on 55 minutes. The ball was hooked into the box from wide on their right. McKinstry controlled neatly and on the turn, fired across goal. Roos got a hand to it, but not enough to prevent it from finding the net.
A poor throw from Ross McCrorie almost caused more trouble three minutes later, Spittal getting the chance to shoot from 20 yards, this one comfortable for Roos.
Van Veen missed another great chance on 62. minutes, collecting a pass on the edge of the six yard box after an incisive Motherwell move down their left, but thankfully, he passed the ball unerringly into the hands of Roos.
McCrorie was on the run forward on 64 minutes, the ball helped out to MacKenzie on the left. He stepped inside but dragged his shot wide on goal at the near post.
Three minutes later, Aberdeen were back in front, Duk on the mark again. Clarkson set MacKenzie away and he went past his man down the left before driving a low ball into the six yard box, Duk stooping to bullet a diving header past Kelly, his seventh goal of an increasingly impressive season.
Cornelius replaced Slattery on 72 minutes as Motherwell looked to get back into the game. Matty Kennedy was the Dons' first change, coming on for Duk five minutes later. McGinn was replaced by O'Donnell at the same time. Ramadani took a whack with nine minutes to go and required treatment before continuing. Besuijen then replaced Clarkson for the Dons, and Miovski made way for Marley Watkins in the 86th minute in the final change of the afternoon for the visitors. The game had descended into a very scrappy period, but that was fine as far as Aberdeen were concerned.
Lamie got up to win a header from a Motherwell corner in the 89th minute, but it looped harmlessly wide of goal as Roos watched it to safety. With five minutes of added time, the hosts started to bombard the Aberdeen box with long throws and corners, Stewart in particular winning header after header. McCrorie went down in the Dons' box under a challenge, Goss booked for dissent in the aftermath, McCrorie carrying on after treatment. He was back on the park to help his team-mates celebrate a hard earned win.