United shrug off penalty woes
Fri 28th Feb 7.45pm
Dundee United missed two penalties but still emerged victorious by a
3-1 scoreline after totally outplaying ten-man Hibernian at Easter Road.
Nadir Ciftci had a spot-kick saved before opening the scoring for the visitors with his tenth goal of the campaign just prior to the break. But there was still enough time remaining for Jordon Forster to equalise following a bad mistake by goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak.
In-form Gavin Gunning then headed his side back into the lead as the hour approached, and Gary Mackay-Steven blazed a second penalty over the bar before Hibs midfielder Tom Taiwo was sent-off for a second yellow card.
Substitute Farid El Alagui later wrapped it up for the visitors, who could have comfortably doubled their final tally on the way to a fourth successive victory.
The Tangerines actually had an early scare as Cierzniak punched onto the head of Paul Hanlon but the ball rather fortuitously cleared the crossbar.
Gradually though the visitors started to find their feet following a busy opening from their opponents. Midway through the first-half Ryan Dow was blocked just outside the area and referee Euan Norris pointed to the spot. But justice appeared to be done when Ciftci tamely sidefooted his penalty at Ben Williams.
Williams was certainly tested as he turned over from Dow and then thwarted Ciftci, who soon made amends for his earlier miss when holding off Hanlon and cutting past a second opponent before hooking beyond the keeper.
Hibs levelled right at the end of the first-half after Cierzniak weakly parried a corner straight onto the head of Forster to leave the two sides on even terms at the break.
However, United continued to appear much the better outfit following the interval with Ciftci and Mackay-Steven both narrowly wide, until the latter's 56th minute corner was headed back across at the far post by Gunning for his third goal in two games.
The Irish defender soon won his team another penalty opportunity with a neat bit of skill inside the area drawing a clumsy foul from Michael Nelson. But Mackay-Steven took the ball off Gunning and promptly fired into the the visiting supporters.
The Tangerines might have had another chance from twelve-yards as Nelson clearly took out John Rankin before Taiwo was dismissed for a second clattering challenge on the always-industrious Paul Paton.
The visitors still made it safe with seven minutes remaining when Mackay-Steven's angled pass released the overlapping Andrew Robertson and El Alagui steered his finish inside the near post.
Sam Stanton struck the outside of an upright from a free-kick in reply but United could have had more goals during the closing stages as they continued to run the legs off their well-beaten opponents.
Hibernian: Williams, Forster, McGivern, Taiwo, Nelson, Hanlon (Boateng 71), Harris, Craig (Handling 61), Haynes (Collins 80), Stanton, Stevenson
subs (unused): Cairney, Maybury, Murdoch, Cummings
Goals: Forster (45)
Dundee United: Cierzniak, Watson, Good, Gunning, Robertson, Paton, Rankin, Armstrong (El Alagui 79), Mackay-Steven (Gomis 90), Dow, Ciftci (Graham 80)
subs (unused): Dillon, Wilson, Connolly, McCallum
Goals: Ciftci (43), Gunning (56), El Alagui (83)
Ref: E. Norris