Dundee United moved up to fourth in the Scottish Premier League with a slick win over Inverness at Tannadice.

John Rankin fizzed in a cracking strike and Scott Robertson added a header five minutes into the second half.

Inverness pressed hard to find a way back but lacked ideas and a cutting edge in the final third of the pitch.

And Johnny Russell sealed the points with a lovely solo goal, skipping round two challenges before finding the bottom corner with a smart finish.

United, who won just two of their first 12 games of the season, are now unbeaten in seven, while Caley Thistle remain 10th in the table.

From an early United corner, Gavin Gunning's attempted shot found Robertson and he headed over from six yards at the back post.

Inverness immediately carved out a response but when the ball landed at the feet of Shane Sutherland in the home penalty box the midfielder shot high and wide.

Both sides were in too much of a rush to get the ball forward, with defences mopping up lots of long balls and the midfield being bypassed.

But the breakthrough came in spectacular style on 15 minutes.

Rankin brushed aside the challenge of Richie Foran to bring down a ballooned clearance from goalkeeper Ryan Esson, took a few steps forward and blazed a swerving shot into the top corner of the net from 22 yards.

Inverness almost equalised instantly when Gregory Tade spun in the box and picked out Billy McKay.

The striker managed to poke a shot towards the corner but keeper Dusan Pernis raced from his goal to make a brave block with his legs.

Tade fired a long-range drive wide, with United duo Willo Flood and Rankin then trying their luck from a similar distance but failing to trouble Esson.

The Tangerines finished the first half strongly, with skipper Jon Daly diverting a long ball from Paul Dixon narrowly wide.

Soon after, Daly slipped a great pass to Russell on left edge of penalty box but the Scotland U21 forward's low, angled strike was kept out by the fingertips of a sprawling Esson.

United continued to have the upper hand after the interval and a second goal duly arrived, courtesy of some sloppy defending from Terry Butcher's men.

A long free kick from Flood was nodded into a central area by Daly and Robertson was left unmarked to stoop and find the bottom corner of the net with his head.

A sliding Nick Ross was inches away from connecting with a free kick at back post as Inverness sought a way back.

The visitors were fortunate not to concede a penalty when referee Alan Muir failed to spot Roman Golobart using an arm to block a header from Russell.

And a bad fumble from Esson presented Daly with an empty goal but the striker, under pressure from two defenders, hooked the ball over.

Inverness finally began to apply some concerted attacking pressure, with Sutherland shooting wide, Golobart squandering a good headed chance and McKay sending a curler over the crossbar.

Pernis then had to smother a 20-yard strike from Greg Tansey and keep out a toe-poke from substitute Claude Gnakpa at his near post.

The Highlander's inability to make their positive play count was punished when Russell cushioned a cross from Daly and jinked his way out of a tight situation to prod a shot beyond Esson.

Lineup, Bookings (5) & Substitutions (5)

Dundee Utd

  • 01 Pernis
  • 02 Dillon
  • 03 Dixon
  • 18 Gunning
  • 26 Neilson
  • 06 Flood
  • 08 Robertson
  • 11 Rankin
  • 17 Mackay-Steven (Armstrong - 77' )
  • 09 Daly (Lacny - 80' )
  • 15 Russell (Ryan - 80' Booked )

Substitutes

  • 13 Banks
  • 05 Kenneth
  • 14 Douglas
  • 07 Ryan
  • 16 Armstrong
  • 20 Lacny
  • 22 Dow

Inverness CT

  • 01 Esson
  • 03 Tokely
  • 16 Golobart Booked
  • 22 Gillet
  • 26 Meekings Booked
  • 08 Tansey Booked
  • 11 Ross (Gnakpa - 66' )
  • 09 Foran Booked
  • 15 Tade
  • 18 Sutherland
  • 21 McKay (Tudur-Jones - 76' )

Substitutes

  • 12 Tuffey
  • 14 Proctor
  • 19 Shinnie
  • 24 Williams
  • 25 Gnakpa
  • 04 Tudur-Jones
  • 20 Winnall
Ref: Muir
Att: 5,994

Match Stats

Shots

9 11

On target

5 5

Corners

5 4

Fouls

11 17

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +3:02 Full time

Full Time The referee brings the game to a close.

90:00 +1:33

Shane Sutherland takes a corner.

90:00 +0:27

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Greg Tansey by Richie Ryan. Greg Tansey delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from left wing, save by Dusan Pernis.

85:24

Centre by Claude Gnakpa, clearance made by Robbie Neilson. Greg Tansey takes a inswinging corner to the near post, Sean Dillon makes a clearance.

83:58

Josh Meekings takes the direct free kick.

83:58 Booking

Booking Richie Ryan goes into the book.

83:49

Free kick awarded for a foul by Richie Ryan on Claude Gnakpa.

82:39

Paul Dixon challenges Claude Gnakpa unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed by Shane Sutherland, clearance by Willo Flood.

81:51

Robbie Neilson takes the indirect free kick.

81:51 Booking

Booking The referee books Josh Meekings for unsporting behaviour.

81:48

Free kick awarded for a foul by Josh Meekings on Stuart Armstrong.

79:29 Substitution

Substitution Jon Daly leaves the field to be replaced by Milos Lacny.

79:29 Substitution

Substitution Richie Ryan joins the action as a substitute, replacing Johnny Russell.

77:40

The assist for the goal came from Jon Daly.

77:40 Goal scored

Goal! - Johnny Russell - Dundee U 3 - 0 Inverness Goal scored by Johnny Russell from close range to the bottom left corner of the goal. Dundee Utd 3-0 Inverness CT.

77:35

The ball is swung over by Jon Daly,

76:04 Substitution

Substitution Stuart Armstrong comes on in place of Gary Mackay-Steven.

75:16 Substitution

Substitution Owain Tudur Jones comes on in place of Billy McKay.

74:26

The assistant referee flags for offside against Johnny Russell. Ryan Esson restarts play with the free kick.

73:32

Claude Gnakpa takes a shot. Save by Dusan Pernis.

72:39

The ball is swung over by Gregory Tade, Greg Tansey takes a shot. Save made by Dusan Pernis.

72:28

The assistant referee flags for offside against Johnny Russell. Free kick taken by Roman Golobart.

71:55

Gregory Tade takes a shot. Save by Dusan Pernis.

70:41

Billy McKay produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that clears the crossbar.

67:50

Josh Meekings is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. Willo Flood takes the free kick.

67:15

Roman Golobart has a headed effort at goal from just inside the area that misses to the right of the goal.

66:47

The ball is swung over by Claude Gnakpa, Paul Dixon manages to make a clearance. Inswinging corner taken by Shane Sutherland from the right by-line played to the near post, Scott Robertson makes a clearance.

65:39 Substitution

Substitution Claude Gnakpa comes on in place of Nick Ross.

65:03

Shane Sutherland takes a shot. Save made by Dusan Pernis.

63:29

Greg Tansey delivers the ball, clearance by Gavin Gunning. Shane Sutherland takes a inswinging corner to the near post, Close range headed effort by Ross Tokely misses to the right of the target.

61:47

Dusan Pernis takes the free kick.

61:47 Booking

Booking Greg Tansey booked for unsporting behaviour.

61:34

Gavin Gunning fouled by Greg Tansey, the ref awards a free kick.

59:45

Kenny Gillet concedes a free kick for a foul on Willo Flood. Paul Dixon crosses the ball, Johnny Russell takes a shot.

59:07

Gavin Gunning takes a shot. Kenny Gillet gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken by Gary Mackay-Steven, clearance made by Josh Meekings.

56:03

Foul by Willo Flood on Greg Tansey, free kick awarded. Shane Sutherland delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from right channel.

54:40

The referee blows for offside. Indirect free kick taken by Dusan Pernis.

51:52

Assist on the goal came from Jon Daly.

51:52 Goal scored

Goal! - Scott Robertson - Dundee U 2 - 0 Inverness Scott Robertson grabs a headed goal from close range. Dundee Utd 2-0 Inverness CT.

51:13

Willo Flood takes the free kick.

51:13 Booking

Booking Booking for Richie Foran for unsporting behaviour.

51:09

Free kick awarded for a foul by Richie Foran on Johnny Russell.

49:59

Corner from left by-line taken by Gary Mackay-Steven.

48:23

The ball is swung over by Paul Dixon.

46:35

Robbie Neilson fouled by Gregory Tade, the ref awards a free kick. Sean Dillon restarts play with the free kick.

45:19

Foul by Greg Tansey on Johnny Russell, free kick awarded. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Paul Dixon, Ross Tokely makes a clearance.

45:01

The referee gets the second half underway.

45:00 +0:17 Half time

Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.

43:56

Unfair challenge on Scott Robertson by Richie Foran results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Sean Dillon.

42:53

Free kick awarded for a foul by Gregory Tade on Scott Robertson. Sean Dillon takes the direct free kick.

42:08

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Willo Flood by Greg Tansey. Willo Flood takes the free kick.

41:17

Johnny Russell takes a shot. Save by Ryan Esson.

38:32

Shot by Jon Daly from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.

37:00

The free kick is swung in right-footed by Gary Mackay-Steven, clearance made by Kenny Gillet. Corner taken left-footed by Gary Mackay-Steven.

37:00 Booking

Booking Roman Golobart receives a caution.

36:53

Unfair challenge on Johnny Russell by Roman Golobart results in a free kick.

35:43

Unfair challenge on Shane Sutherland by Paul Dixon results in a free kick. Free kick crossed left-footed by Shane Sutherland from right wing.

33:33

A cross is delivered by Roman Golobart.

33:10

Unfair challenge on Billy McKay by Scott Robertson results in a free kick. Richie Foran takes the indirect free kick.

32:20

Shot from just outside the box by Greg Tansey goes over the target.

29:23

Josh Meekings concedes a free kick for a foul on Gary Mackay-Steven. Paul Dixon produces a strike on goal direct from the free kick.

27:20

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Billy McKay by Gavin Gunning. Shane Sutherland delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, save by Dusan Pernis.

26:12

John Rankin concedes a free kick for a foul on Shane Sutherland. Free kick crossed left-footed by Shane Sutherland, clearance made by Paul Dixon.

23:57

Shot from outside the penalty box by Gregory Tade goes wide right of the goal.

20:20

Unfair challenge on Sean Dillon by Gregory Tade results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Scott Robertson. The assistant referee flags for offside against Jon Daly. Ryan Esson restarts play with the free kick.

18:11

Scott Robertson fouled by Shane Sutherland, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Gavin Gunning.

17:30

Billy McKay takes a shot. Dusan Pernis makes a save.

16:33

John Rankin fouled by Billy McKay, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Paul Dixon. Unfair challenge on Ross Tokely by Jon Daly results in a free kick. Ross Tokely takes the free kick.

14:12 Goal scored

Goal! - John Rankin - Dundee U 1 - 0 Inverness John Rankin finds the net with a goal from outside the box to the top left corner of the goal. Dundee Utd 1-0 Inverness CT.

13:32

Gary Mackay-Steven sends in a cross, Ross Tokely manages to make a clearance.

12:50

Robbie Neilson delivers the ball, clearance by Josh Meekings. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Gary Mackay-Steven, save by Ryan Esson.

12:27

Foul by Josh Meekings on Gary Mackay-Steven, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Paul Dixon.

11:31

Foul by Shane Sutherland on Willo Flood, free kick awarded. Dusan Pernis restarts play with the free kick.

10:25

Roman Golobart fouled by Jon Daly, the ref awards a free kick. Roman Golobart takes the indirect free kick.

8:50

Gary Mackay-Steven fouled by Gregory Tade, the ref awards a free kick. Paul Dixon restarts play with the free kick.

5:29

The referee blows for offside against Billy McKay. Dusan Pernis takes the indirect free kick.

4:25

Foul by Willo Flood on Greg Tansey, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed right-footed by Greg Tansey from left wing, clearance by Robbie Neilson.

2:16

Effort from the edge of the area by Shane Sutherland goes wide of the right-hand post.

0:57

Corner taken by Gary Mackay-Steven from the left by-line, Headed effort on goal by Scott Robertson from just inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.

0:00

The match has kicked off.

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