Dundee United strode confidently back into the top six with their best performance of the season so far.
Both teams were reduced to 10 men on a freezing cold day at Tannadice but the Tangerines were looking on course for three points before the cards came out.
Indeed, Micky Mellon’s men took just 49 seconds to get ahead against Livingston, with Adrian Sporle finishing off an excellent move with a fine strike.
It looked worrying for them when Peter Pawlett was sent off just after the half-hour but they responded superbly by going 2-0 up through Lawrence Shankland before the break.
Livi then found themselves a man down in the second half when Jack Fitzwater was sent packing for a foul on Tangerines’ sub Ian Harkes.
The home side weren’t finished and another outstanding goal from Shankland – a lovely curling shot – gave them the scoreline their performance deserved.
The Tannadice pitch was the greenest place in Dundee, with the ground staff to be congratulated for a superb job in getting the game on despite the snow.
The Tangerines made one change from their 2-0 win over Ross County seven days earlier, with Marc McNulty dropping down to the bench and Louis Appere starting instead.
After their unbeaten erun came to an end at home to St Johnstone, Livi gaffer Dave Martindale made five changes, with Jon Guthie, Fitzwater, Julien Serrano, Josh Mullin and Craig Sibbald are all in his line-up.
The home side made a brilliant start, taking the lead after just 49 seconds.
It was a wonderfully-worked goal, with Cameroon international Jeando Fuchs playing a pass wide left to Jamie Robson.
The full-back cut the ball back to Sporle, who took a touch before firing high into the Livi net from eight yards.
On nine minutes, United threatened again when Appere raced into the box but his shot was blocked and keeper Max Stryjek gathered.
The visitors had their chances but it was United who came closer to scoring next when, with 27 minutes on the clock, frontman Shankland picked up possession inside the box. He moved to keeper Max Stryjek’s right then tried to thread it into the net from the tightest of angles but his strike was blocked. The loose ball game back to him but it was the same story.
It had been looking so good for United but they were reduced to 10 men on 31 minutes when Pawlett was red-carded for a tackle on Jason Holt. It looked harsh but it was a long, lonely walk up the tunnel for the midfielder.
Showing true grit, though, it was 2-0 to United just four minutes later.
Shankland was the scorer, slipping the ball under the advancing Stryjek following great work by recent arrival Harkes. The American won the ball in the middle of the park, raced forward then split the Livingston defence with a pass.
After the restart, Shankland looked as if he might make it three to the hosts but Marvin Bartley blocked his strike before it could be a danger.
Up at the other end, Craig Sibbald’s looping header was pushed over the bar by United goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist.
After Jay Emmanuel-Thomas missed a golden opportunity for the West Lothian side by blasting over the bar from close range, it was 10 versus 10 on 61 minutes.
Fitzwater was the man to walk for Livi, shown the red card by referee Nick Walsh for a challenge on Harkes as the United sub prepared to burst into the penalty box.
The Tangerines wrapped things up with seven minutes remaining when he bamboozled the Livi defence by winning a header, cutting inside Josh Mullin then curling a shot beyond the reach of Stryjek.
Dundee United: Siegrist, Smith, Reynolds, Edwards, Robson, Butcher, Fuchs, Sporle (Harkes 33), Pawlett, Appere (McNulty 77), Shankland. Subs not used: Deniz, Connolly, Clark, Hoti, Bolton, Mochrie, Neilson.
Livingston: Stryjek, Devlin, Fitzwater, Guthrie, Serrano, Bartley (Lawson 71), Holt, Mullin, Pittman (Poplatnik 64), Sibbald (Kabia 64), Robinson (Emmanuel-Thomas 12). Subs not used: McCrorie, McMillan, Taylor-Sinclair, Ambrose, Forrest.
Referee: Nick Walsh.