Late heart-breaker for United
Sat 28th Apr 12.30pm
Dundee United conceded ground in the race for third place and a Champions League qualifying spot after substitute Arvydas Novikovas netted a late equaliser for Hearts in a 2-2 draw at Tannadice.
The Tangerines led twice with Willo Flood earning them an advantage around the half-hour mark with a great 30-yard strike before Rudi Skacel immediately headed an equaliser.
Winger Gary Mackay-Steven restored their lead midway through the second period but Novikovas then cancelled it out with only seven minutes remaining.
That was sufficient to retain fourth place in the table for United, who are now five points behind Motherwell - 5-1 winners against St Johnstone - with just three games left.
Home defender Garry Kenneth made a surprise return from injury in place of the unavailable Gavin Gunning, who damaged a shoulder in the recent derby win at the Saints.
Ryan McGowan headed over early on for the visitors but it was Jamie MacDonald required to keep out a similar effort from Jon Daly at the opposite end. Hearts' Craig Beattie then limped out of the action with a recurrence of a heel injury.
The Taysiders forged ahead when Flood crashed home in style after a partial clearance from McGowan, who then crossed for Skacel to head an equaliser after Robbie Neilson had initially cleared. McGowan then suffered a clash of head and required attention before returning to the action.
Hearts were first to show after the break when Danny Grainger's free-kick was fended away by Dusan Pernis and Marius Zaliukas nodded over from the resultant corner. The Slovakian keeper then did well to stop a Skacel header from Andrew Driver's cross before Mackay-Steven forced in Flood's 65th minute corner to regain the lead.
Substitute David Templeton soon drilled against the crossbar for the visitors before fellow replacment Novikovas struck an 83rd minute equaliser and John Rankin flashed a late effort wide in reply.
Dundee United: Pernis, Neilson, Dillon, Kenneth, Dixon, Flood, Robertson, Rankin, Mackay-Steven, Daly, Russell (Ryan 82)
subs (unused): Banks, Watson, Douglas, Swanson, Armstrong, Dow
Goals: Flood (32), Mackay-Steven (65)
Hearts: MacDonald, Grainger, Barr, Webster, McGowan (Templeton 70), Zaliukas, Santana, Black, Driver (Novikovas 80), Skacel, Beattie (Elliott 30)
subs (unused)> Ridgers, Taouil, Prychynenko, Robinson
Goals: Skacel (35), Novikovas (83)