Kenny McLean scored another crucial away goal as Aberdeen bounced back from a difficult start in Kazakhstan.
The Dons found themselves two down inside the first quarter against Kairat Almaty but McLean came off the bench to give them hope in the Europa League third qualifying round.
The former St Mirren midfielder scored his first goal for Aberdeen against Rijeka in the previous round and was on hand to fire home in the 69th minute.
And the visitors survived some late scares to escape with a 2-1 deficit ahead of next Thursday's second leg at Pittodrie.
Despite falling behind early on against the Kazakh league leaders, the Dons had not started badly, enjoying plenty of the ball in decent areas, but were punished by some clinical play.
The opener came in the 13th minute from Kairat's first real chance when Mikhail Bakaev followed up his own pass to collect a lay-off just inside the box.
Ashton Taylor could not get across quickly enough to block and the midfielder drilled a shot into the far corner.
Jonny Hayes had a great chance to level six minutes later when he met Niall McGinn's cross four yards out but he could not keep his header down as he out-jumped a defender.
And Aberdeen were soon punished for giving Bauyrzhan Islamkhan too much time and space almost 35 yards out, as the Kairat captain unleashed a swerving, dipping shot that found the top corner.
Aberdeen continued to push forward and Peter Pawlett, David Goodwillie and Andrew Considine had brief openings inside the Kairat box, but Isael threatened a third when he burst through and drilled a shot that almost crept inside the near post.
Striker Adam Rooney came on for midfielder Pawlett but Aberdeen were not enjoying as much possession early in the second half and they needed Danny Ward to provide a strong hand to push Isael's shot over after the Brazilian had turned Taylor.
McLean came on for Goodwillie in the 65th minute and made an instant impact, blasting home from 10 yards after McGinn had cut the ball back.
He might have got his third goal of the season moments later but Hayes did not see the pass after making a brilliant run into the box.
Aberdeen were looking comfortable in the final 20 minutes, with Kairat only producing a couple of free-kicks that did not call Ward into action, until the hosts twice came close in injury-time.
Ward got a fingertip to stop Serginho's curling shot finding the far corner and Stanislav Lunin hit the bar with a bouncing strike from 16 yards from the resulting corner.