Scott McDonald scored twice as Motherwell delivered a severe blow to Dundee United’s hopes of escaping relegation in the Scottish Premiership.
It took until stoppage time in the first half for Stephen McManus to separate the two sides who started the night in the bottom two places.
McDonald struck following a corner before netting again from 25 yards to lift Well into eighth in the table.
Defeat leaves United 13 points adrift of nearest rivals Kilmarnock.
The opening 45 minutes were torrid, with very few chances for either side before McManus found the net.
James McFadden floated in a free-kick to the near post and the former Scotland international glanced it into the far corner
Until this point, United had the best of the few chances made.
Guy Demel attempted an extravagant overhead kick, but the ball was deflected wide of the target.
And Blair Spittal forced goalkeeper Connor Ripley to dive low to his left after waltzing past two Well defenders.
Both teams were playing a 3-5-2 formation, which meant space in the middle of the park was at a premium with neither side able to create clear-cut chances.
The home side started the second half well – and John Rankin had a net-bound header blocked on the line by team-mate Billy Mckay.
Then Ripley flapped at a Rankin cross and, from the rebound, Spittal had a header that clipped the top of the crossbar.
But Motherwell’s second came from another set-piece.
Josh Law floated in a corner that was flicked on to the back post, where McDonald was allowed time to turn before firing the ball into the roof of the net.
All three points were secured when McDonald thundered home a shot from 25 yards low to the left-hand side of goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.