Match ends, St. Johnstone 0, Dundee 2.
St Johnstone 0-2 Dundee
Dundee ended 2017 with a Premiership victory over Tayside rivals St Johnstone, who had a man sent off and slipped out of the top six.
Marcus Haber's early strike gave Neil McCann's side the edge before Saints' Richard Foster was sent off for a late challenge on Paul McGowan.
Stefan Scougall's free-kick hit the frame of the Dundee goal shortly after the break.
A-Jay Leitch-Smith's fine strike sealed Dundee's win late on.
The visitors remain in 10th place, but are now five points clear of bottom side Ross County, while St Johnstone's miserable home form now extends to seven matches without a win - and only one goal - since 23 September.
Dundee - without a league win at McDiarmid Park since 2014 - got off to a flying start as Leitch-Smith flicked on a header which found the feet of Haber in the box. The big Canadian striker fired a shot straight through the legs of Zander Clark to put the away side ahead.
St Johnstone tried to hit back with a flurry of attacking raids, but the focus of the match would shift with the flashing of cards.
First, Denny Johnstone came flying in with a two-footed tackle on Glen Kamara. Johnstone was fortunate he won the ball so cleanly, and perhaps it saved him from a more serious sanction. Referee Willie Collum showed him a yellow card.
But a straight red would be shown to Foster after the full-back's attempted tackle connected with the knee of McGowan. Contact looked minimal but it was a dangerous and high challenge from Foster.
Haber tested Clark and from the rebound Leitch-Smith got an effort on target but the St Johnstone defenders cleared to safety.
St Johnstone changed their shape for the second half and went to a back three. It gave the 10 men a far greater attacking impetus.
Scougall fired in a terrific free-kick from 20 yards that left Elliot Parish standing but the ball came back off the post. The ball fell to Liam Gordon who blasted a shot towards goal but Parish did well to tip it over.
Highly-rated Dundee central defender Jack Hendry strode forward with real purpose as he sought to get his side back on the front foot, but he fired his long range shot just wide of goal.
Scott Allan's replacement Faissal El Bakhtaoui then stole the ball in midfield and sprinted forward to fizz a shot just over the St Johnstone bar. He would go even closer soon after with a long-range effort that came off the post.
St Johnstone sub Steven MacLean then forced a save from Parish as the home side continued to carry hope that their reduced number could somehow salvage something.
But it would be Dundee who registered next. El Bakhtaoui played the ball into the path of Leitch-Smith, who powered a drive into the corner from 20 yards.
And with that McCann's men stayed two points clear of the relegation zone going into the winter break.
St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright: "Arguably, yes [the sending off did cost us] because we are down to 10 men with about 70 minutes to go and 1-0 down at the time.
"I thought we responded well to the goal and created a few opportunities, just that final ball in the first half and didn't work the keeper enough.
"The sending off, it's always difficult. I'm not sure how much contact he gets on him. The studs are showing but there's no aggression in the challenge, there's no malice, there doesn't seem to be a lot of intent in the challenge. It looks like a lazy challenge and McGowan's probably made the most of it as a lot of players would.
"Willie [Collum] seemed to take his time over it, he wasn't rushing to get his card out. It's one of them - I've seen them not given but unfortunately a decision has been given which hampers our progress in the game.
"But having said that I thought second half we were outstanding, we should have got something from the game, even with 10 men I thought we were the better side.
"I thought going forward in our play and our energy against 11 men was excellent, I'm so proud of them for the performance they put in second half and disappointed we have got caught on the counter attack for the second goal."
Dundee manager Neil McCann: "I'm delighted. Anybody that watched me on the sidelines there for the last 20 minutes would have seen that probably I was very unhappy with just how we kind of controlled the game and then managed it but it was a fantastic finish from A-Jay to kill it off and really it is a wonderful way to end the year.
"I think we have improved a lot. We'll now look to have a real good break for the boys, I've told them to go away and make sure they are relaxing for the next week anyway and just turn the engines down. But it's a good place to come back and start again off the back of a good win.
"[The sending off] was difficult as it was on the other side of the pitch. Maybe Ricky did look a bit high but I don't know what kind of contact there was but Willie [Collum] seemed pretty certain for the red card."
- 19FosterBooked at 22mins
- 3TanserSubstituted forEastonat 45'minutesBooked at 73mins
- 4AlstonSubstituted forMacLeanat 82'minutes
- 8DavidsonBooked at 13mins
- 17JohnstoneBooked at 14minsSubstituted forGordonat 45'minutesBooked at 77mins
- 34WaddellBooked at 53minsSubstituted forEtxabegurenat 61'minutes
- 15Aurtenetxe Borde
- 10AllanSubstituted forEl Bakhtaouiat 71'minutes
- 7Leitch-SmithBooked at 90minsSubstituted forHenveyat 90+3'minutes
- 20El Bakhtaoui
- William Collum
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 0, Dundee 2.
Substitution, Dundee. Matthew Henvey replaces A-Jay Leitch-Smith.
A-Jay Leitch-Smith (Dundee) is shown the yellow card for excessive celebration.
Goal! St. Johnstone 0, Dundee 2. A-Jay Leitch-Smith (Dundee) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Faissal El Bakhtaoui.
Attempt missed. David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box is too high.
Foul by Steven MacLean (St. Johnstone).
Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Dundee) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Jack Hendry (Dundee) because of an injury.
Attempt saved. Steven MacLean (St. Johnstone) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner.
Substitution, St. Johnstone. Steven MacLean replaces Blair Alston.
Corner, Dundee. Conceded by David Wotherspoon.
Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Dundee) hits the right post with a right footed shot from outside the box following a set piece situation.
Liam Gordon (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Liam Gordon (St. Johnstone).
Julen Etxabeguren Leanizbarrutia (Dundee) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Aurtenetxe.
Attempt missed. Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Dundee) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.
Corner, Dundee. Conceded by Zander Clark.
Attempt saved. Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Dundee) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Brian Easton (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Cammy Kerr (Dundee) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Brian Easton (St. Johnstone).
Substitution, Dundee. Faissal El Bakhtaoui replaces Scott Allan.
Foul by Stefan Scougall (St. Johnstone).
Glen Kamara (Dundee) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt saved. Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Attempt missed. Jack Hendry (Dundee) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.
Substitution, Dundee. Julen Etxabeguren Leanizbarrutia replaces Kerr Waddell.
Foul by David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone).
Paul McGowan (Dundee) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone).
Jack Hendry (Dundee) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Elliot Parish.
Attempt saved. Liam Gordon (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.
Stefan Scougall (St. Johnstone) hits the right post with a left footed shot from outside the box from a direct free kick.
Kerr Waddell (Dundee) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Blair Alston (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Kerr Waddell (Dundee).