Match ends, Inverness CT 0, Aberdeen 1.
- Aberdeen win to cut Celtic's lead
- Pawlett goal secures three points for Dons
- Fifth straight Premiership win for visitors
- Third successive league loss for Inverness
Peter Pawlett's early goal gave Aberdeen victory in Inverness and moved the Dons to within two points of Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic.
Niall McGinn seized on a 12th-minute defensive mix-up to lay on the chance for Pawlett to fire high into the net.
Goalkeeper Scott Brown denied Marley Watkins, David Raven and Graeme Shinnie as Caley Thistle pressed for parity.
Brown also tipped over a Greg Tansey free-kick before Billy McKay shot against the Aberdeen crossbar.
Derek McInnes's side host his former club St Johnstone on New Year's Day, hours before Celtic travel to take on Partick Thistle. Inverness, who remain fifth, are up against Highland rivals Ross County in Dingwall on 1 January.
Inverness, so often in the top four this season, went into the match hoping to avoid a third straight defeat against an Aberdeen side who had won their three previous December matches.
And John Hughes' Caley Thistle gifted their visitors the chance to open the scoring when Josh Meekings and Carl Tremarco both leapt for the same high ball.
McGinn retrieved on the right and squared for Pawlett to score for the second match running.
After such an early set-back, the hosts gradually began to exert some pressure with Gary Warren testing Brown from distance.
The keeper was given more work to do when Inverness sprung Aberdeen's offside trap, with Watkins and Raven denied in quick succession.
And there was further frustration for Inverness in first-half stoppage time when Shinnie struck powerfully towards goal only to see the impressive Brown make another block.
The second half lacked the fluency of the first and neither side carved out many clear openings.
However, in one break David Goodwillie crossed low for Jonny Hayes and the former Inverness winger failed to make a telling connection from near the penalty spot.
A McGinn free-kick moments later flew over the crossbar.
Tansey was much more accurate with his set piece at the other end and Brown was equal to it with a solid save.
Aberdeen claimed for a penalty after Adam Rooney's header towards goal struck the flailing arm of Warren but referee Calum Murray allowed play to continue.
Caley Thistle's best chance of the match fell to McKay after Warren beat Brown to Tansey's deep free-kick but, with the goal unguarded, the striker's half-volley on the stretch rattled the frame of the goal.
And there was similar disappointment for McKay moments later when he could not quite connect with another Warren headed knock-down, allowing Brown to gather minutes before the final whistle sounded.
- 18TremarcoBooked at 32mins
- 10DoranSubstituted forSekajjaat 86'minutes
- 16PawlettBooked at 30mins
- 17GoodwillieSubstituted forSmithat 85'minutes
- Calum Murray
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Inverness CT 0, Aberdeen 1.
Attempt missed. Greg Tansey (Inverness CT) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.
Foul by David Raven (Inverness CT).
Cameron Smith (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Inverness CT. Ibra Sekajja replaces Aaron Doran.
Substitution, Aberdeen. Cameron Smith replaces David Goodwillie.
Attempt missed. Marley Watkins (Inverness CT) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left.
Attempt saved. Ash Taylor (Aberdeen) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by David Raven.
Attempt saved. Gary Warren (Inverness CT) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Corner, Inverness CT. Conceded by Mark Reynolds.
Attempt blocked. Carl Tremarco (Inverness CT) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Ryan Christie (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Mark Reynolds (Aberdeen).
Attempt missed. Adam Rooney (Aberdeen) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is too high.
Billy McKay (Inverness CT) hits the left post with a left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left.
Carl Tremarco (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Adam Rooney (Aberdeen).
Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Josh Meekings.