Dundee Utd 4-1 Hearts: Match Report
Dundee Utd 4-1 Hearts: Match Report - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game as it happened.
United maintain momentum
Dundee United's recent run of fine form continued as they proved too strong for Hearts in a 4-1 win to move into third place in the Scottish Premiership thanks to another convincing win at Tannadice.
Jackie McNamara's side have become the form team in the country in recent weeks and carried that on despite the visitors equalising in the first half through Jamie Hamill's penalty after Brian Graham had given the hosts an early lead.
Graham netted his second goal of the afternoon with a header early in the second half before late goals from Gary Mackay-Steven and John Rankin rounded things off in the closing stages.
It was harsh on Hearts, who had battled hard - but United look capable of giving anyone a game on this kind of form.
It was only a matter of minutes before Ryan Gauld was fouled by Hearts midfielder Hamill in an attempt to nullify the United youngster.
In the 14th minute, Gauld had an ambitious attempt to add to the home side's recent scoring spree when he unleashed a 25-yard volley which goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald did well to fist over the bar for a corner.
Two minutes later the home side took the lead. Mackay-Steven worked his magic with a delicate chip which caught the Hearts defence napping as Stuart Armstrong stole in behind them. The Scotland under-21 skipper captain kept his composure as he stuck out a leg to fire towards goal and Graham was on hand to apply the finishing touch from point-blank range.
The home team looked on course for another emphatic home win but they suffered a setback in the 20th minute when the visitors equalised from the penalty spot.
Mark Wilson needlessly fouled Jamie Walker as he made his way into the hosts penalty area, and Hamill sent Radoslaw Cierzniak the wrong way with a well-placed spot-kick.
It was an even enough encounter and the hosts were next to threaten four minutes before the interval when Graham had a chance from Gauld's neat pass - but he shot high over the bar.
United began the second half determined to regain their lead and Rankin's piledriver was tipped wide for a corner by MacDonald.
But the hosts went back in front in the 48th minute when Mark Wilson's corner was met by Graham, who rose unchallenged to power a header past the helpless MacDonald in the away goal.
That gave the Taysiders a welcome boost and they had another chance just after the hour mark as Armstrong set up Gauld, who rolled the ball onto his weaker right foot but saw his shot deflected wide of the target.
It was all United by this stage and next up was Wilson who burst forward, beating Hearts full-back Kevin McHattie, only to see his shot from distance clear the far post.
A few minutes later, Mackay-Steven went on one of his trademark runs to skip by a number of Hearts challenges before seeing his 20-yard shot go just inches wide.
But, with five minutes remaining, Mackay-Steven made it 3-1 with a 16-yard curling shot from Gauld's pass which left MacDonald helpless.
Then, with the last kick of the game, Rankin's shot was deflected off Hearts defender Danny Wilson to make it 4-1 and wrap up the rout.
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