Aberdeen eased their relegation worries as Stefan Gartenmann’s goal earned a 1-0 victory over 10-man Motherwell at Pittodrie.

Gartenmann headed the only goal on the hour mark, moments after Jack Vale had been sent off for catching Jack MacKenzie with a raised boot.

Motherwell were unhappy with Craig Napier’s red card decision and the award of the corner which led to the goal after Gartenmann appeared to put the ball behind himself.

The Dons missed a series of chances to leave the game on a knife edge until nine minutes of stoppage time were up.

The result moves Aberdeen one point ahead of their opponents and both teams were boosted by defeats for Ross County and St Johnstone, with the Steelmen still seven points and 20 goals ahead of second-bottom Staggies.

Motherwell made the brighter start and Stephen O’Donnell’s first-time strike was saved by the feet of Kelle Roos.

Aberdeen grew into the game around the 20-minute mark but could not test Liam Kelly during the first half.

Bojan Miovski did well to reach MacKenzie’s cross but could not turn his acrobatic effort on target and Dante Polvara sent a powerful effort just over the bar from 22 yards.

Blair Spittal threatened with two headers from Georgie Gent crosses at the other end, but Roos was not seriously troubled.

Aberdeen’s first shot on target came after a 52nd-minute corner, but Lennon Miller produced an excellent goal-line clearance to head away Angus MacDonald’s well-struck volley.

The visitors defended their box well as the Dons kept up the pressure and Connor Barron’s lofted diagonal ball forward soon sparked the red card.

Vale cut the pass out, but his raised boot flew into the midriff of MacKenzie and Napier immediately showed the red card.

There was no VAR review, despite mass protests from the Motherwell players, who were soon unhappy again when a corner was awarded after Gartenmann took a swipe at the deflected free-kick following Vale’s foul.

Gartenmann this time made it count when he headed Junior Hoilett’s delivery in off a post. It was the Dane’s third goal for Aberdeen and his second against the Steelmen.

Aberdeen continued to create chances. Devlin and Gartenmann were off target following corners and Miovski stabbed just wide after Hoilett over-hit a pass on a two-on-one counter-attack.

Kelly saved Miovski’s low drive and pushed over Hoilett’s long-range strike before making an excellent stop from substitute Duk.

Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell threw on attacking players and they pushed for a late equaliser, but Spittal blazed a half chance well over the bar in stoppage time.