Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes said hitman Sam Cosgrove has followed in the footsteps of Adam Rooney after his double against Dundee brought him to 20 strikes for the season.
The Dons struggled at Dens Park until after half-time, when Lewis Ferguson won a penalty – which Cosgrove converted, before Connor McLennan jinked his way to the byeline to set up the striker for another.
Another three points keeps the Reds level on points with Kilmarnock in the hunt for third place in the Premiership and a Europa League qualifying slot.
It also makes it two wins on the spin going into Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final with Celtic at Hampden.
On Cosgrove, whose Reds career took off with seven goals in December, McInnes said: “It’s a fantastic story for him, to be written off by so many and to then still contribute.
“To score 20 goals in the Premiership isn’t easy for a young man like him. To shoulder that responsibility speaks volumes for him.”
The 22-year-old, who it was reported yesterday is being watched by English Championship side Millwall, hadn’t scored in four games for the Reds.
But after he sent Seny Dieng the wrong way from the spot, any chance of an upset at the hands of the rock-bottom Dees evaporated.
McInnes said: “Sam got his goal and I thought the second was coming.
“(Graeme) Shinnie gives it to McLennan, he does his thing and it’s good movement by Sam for his 20th of the season.
“I’m delighted for him – it’s always been a figure for an Aberdeen centre-forward to get to.
“Adam Rooney was the first to do it in a while and Sam has followed in his footsteps.”
Rooney, who left for English non-league Salford City in the summer, was the first Aberdeen striker since Joe Harper to hit 20 goals or more for three consecutive campaigns.
Cosgrove, signed for a relative pittance from Carlisle United last January, has filled his shooting boots this term.
McInnes added: “We had loads of bids in for strikers but didn’t have the money to go the extra mile. He had to win the internal battle first but he’s led the line well.
“It’s easy for me to recognise the hard work he does and it’s now being recognised by others.
“You still need your striker to score goals and thankfully he’s managed to still be an influence, even when he’s not scoring, but he’s added goals to his game.” The gaffer was frank in his assessment of the Dons’ first half performance, while also praising his team for stepping it up when they needed to.
He said: “The first objective was to win the game and we’ve done that. It wasn’t plain sailing – the first half wasn’t good enough. We were too loose in possession and didn’t show enough penetration.
“We gave it away too readily and gave encouragement to a team that was looking for some.
“We gave them enough to counter on us a couple of times, so I wasn’t best pleased.
“The team who stepped it up in the second half was going to win the game and thankfully that was us.
“The counter-attack for the penalty is brilliant – the run from Lewis (Ferguson) needs to be acknowledged. He had the subtlety to wrong-foot his man.”
Of the race for third and the post-split, which begins against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park a week on Saturday, he said: “This time last week we weren’t feeling good about ourselves and it was important we put another win on top of beating a good Motherwell side.
“At this stage of the season it’s about finding ways to win. It’s good to get the six points over the last two games but the split sorts everything out.
“It’s the head-to-heads that will decide things. It’ll be the same at the bottom. It’s the last five games where things start to play out.”
It was also reported yesterday that English Championship side Derby are interested in Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie who is out of contract in the summer.