Dundee had attempted 22 shots before Luke McCowan finally struck
Manager Tony Docherty said Dundee's “courage was rewarded” as they came from behind to score the 89th-minute winner against St Johnstone in a superb Tayside derby at Dens Park.
St Johnstone scored against the run of play after nine minutes when Matty Smith curled in from the edge of the box.
Dundee's dominance was finally rewarded with 15 minutes remaining when Luke McCowan scored a controversial VAR penalty after Liam Gordon had fouled Amadou Bakayoko.
Dundee pushed for the winner and it was Jordan McGhee who nodded in from Owen Beck's cross to send the home crowd into a frenzy and secure three points in the Scottish Premiership.
“My team was fantastic today,” said Docherty. “The level of performance, the courage in a derby game.
“Their game was very intense. The statistics will show that we did everything we wanted to do.”
“We got our just reward. We were down 0-1 against the run of play. Many teams would have given up. But the character of the team, the courage and the intensity were rewarded.”
Dundee remain sixth but are three points ahead of seventh-placed Hibernian, while St Johnstone remain in 10th, five points ahead of Ross County having played two games more.
Despite the different narratives between these two teams this season, only two points separated them at kickoff.
Dundee set out to terrorize the visitors' defense from the start through McCowan, Scott Tiffoney and Lyall Cameron, but they couldn't find a way to score.
St Johnstone's opener after just eight minutes was a surprise to everyone except Smith, who prepared well before hitting the bottom corner from 20 yards.
Dundee responded well. Bakayoko hit the post when he parried goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov's free-kick, while Joe Shaughnessy and Aaron Donnelly both went close with headers.
St Johnstone had chances to double their lead. Benjamin Kimpioka and Adama Sidibeh were thwarted by great saves from Trevor Carson, but the visitors were unable to take advantage of their pace on the counterattack.
Dundee continued to press in the second half, hitting cross after cross but lacking the finishing touch. They needed a helping hand and got one as Gordon dragged his hand across Bakayoko's face as a corner came in. The VAR, Don Robertson, spotted it and called David Munro on the screen.
A penalty was awarded and McCowan duly shot the ball past the post, equalizing for Dundee.
The hosts, with the wind back in their sails, looked for a winner and quickly found it when McGhee fired a header past Mitov.
There was plenty of injury time following Michael Mellon's serious head injury, but Dundee held on for a crucial win – only their third in 13 games.
Player of the Match – Owen Beck
So good that they signed him twice. So creative and dangerous as a left-back, so full of energy. Not unlike another young left-back playing on the streets about a decade ago
Dundee’s dominance finally pays off – analysis
When managers talk about converting performance into results, they usually take it with a grain of salt. This time, however, Docherty was exactly right.
When Dundee get forward it's like watching young boys play. Lots of energy and tricks, desperate to beat a man and have a chance – they just need to find that clinical edge.
One wonders if they could have saved anything if they hadn't been awarded a penalty. It was just the confidence boost they needed.
As for St Johnstone, they were in the top six for most of the afternoon. Although Craig Levein and Andy Kirk faced criticism from some quarters, they did a good job.
The Perth team played with purpose, scoring with their first chance and threatening to score without creating much of a chance. However, you will be angry that they threw this away.
What they said
Dundee boss Tony Docherty: “Michael Mellon is not great. I would like the referee to answer a few questions. It’s terrible, the blow he suffered on the head.”
“For a referee to allow this to continue… I have to say a huge thank you to my club doctor, Derek McCormack, who walked the pitch. The referee allowed the game to continue. That was life-threatening, that challenge.”
St Johnstone manager Craig Levein: “I'm angry about a few things. The penalty decision, my team’s reaction to the lost goal.”
“I didn't like what I saw after the equalizer. We should have stood taller and fought harder. Come back in the game.
Dundee host Ross County in the Premiership on Saturday (3pm GMT), while St Johnstone host Rangers the next day (12pm).
- 6McGheeBooked at 17 minutes
- 25DonnellyReplaced byLamiaat 89'protocol
- 7TiffoneyReplaced byMellonat 67'protocolBooked for 83 minutesReplaced byAshcroftat 90+14'protocol
- 9BakayokoBooked for 69 minutes
- 16RobinsonReplaced byCostelloeat 45'protocolBooked for 48 minutes
- 1MythsBooked for 75 minutes
- 35BlacksmithReplaced bySpranglerat 69'protocol
- 6GordonBooked for 74 minutes
- 4consider it
- 17WantedReplaced byBlacksmithat 58'protocol
- 33CeltsReplaced byMcGowanat 79'protocol
- 22BlacksmithReplaced byJaiyesimiat 90+14'protocol
- 29A typhoonReplaced byFor this reasonat 58'protocolBooked for 88 minutes
- 15For this reason
Referee: David Munro
Match ends: Dundee 2, St Johnstone 1.
Second half ends, Dundee 2, St Johnstone 1.
Attempt failed. Adama Sidibeh (St. Johnstone) tries with his left foot outside the penalty area, but the shot goes high and wide to the left.
Substitution: St Johnstone. Diallang Jaiyesimi replaces Matt Smith.
Substitution Dundee. Lee Ashcroft replaces Michael Mellon due to injury.
Delay over. You are ready to move on.
Game delayed due to injury to Michael Mellon (Dundee).
Attempt blocked. Max Kucheryavyi (St. Johnstone)'s left-footed shot from a distance is blocked. Supported by Graham Carey.
Corner, St Johnstone. Goal conceded by Trevor Carson.
Foul by Michael Mellon (Dundee).
Ryan McGowan (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Dundee 2, St. Johnstone 1. Jordan McGhee (Dundee) heads from the center of the penalty area into the bottom right corner. Assisted by Owen Beck following a set piece situation.
Substitution Dundee. Ricki Lamie replaces Aaron Donnelly due to injury.
Max Kucheryavyi (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Dara Costelloe (Dundee) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Max Kucheryavyi (St Johnstone).
Attempt failed. Adama Sidibeh (St. Johnstone) tries to head it from the center of the box, but the ball misses to the left. Assisted by Graham Carey with a cross.
Attempt blocked. Amadou Bakayoko (Dundee)'s right-footed shot from the right side of the six-yard box is blocked. Assisted by Aaron Donnelly with a header pass.
Dara Costelloe (Dundee) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Graham Carey (St Johnstone).
Player of the game