Johnny Russell's late penalty earned Dundee United a point against Hibernian but the visitors will feel aggrieved because Ryan McGivern's trip on Gary Mackay-Steven was outside the box.

A clearance by Hibs keeper Ben Williams cannoned off John Rankin for a bizarre United opener in six minutes.

James McPake headed home Leigh Griffiths' cross as Hibs pulled level.

And a superb strike by Griffiths looked to have won the match for Pat Fenlon's side before the late controversy.

That late penalty prevented Hibs from joining third-placed Motherwell and fourth-placed St Johnstone on 40 points in the Scottish Premier League.

Instead, they are in sixth place, one point above their Tannadice hosts.

Johnny Russell celebrates his 86th minute penalty

Johnny Russell celebrates tucking away an 86th-minute penalty

United took the lead in ridiculous circumstances. Former Hibs midfielder Rankin chased down a perfectly reasonable pass-back by Jorge Claros to Williams and benefited from the Hibs keeper taking a touch before attempting a clearance with his right boot.

However, rather than launching the ball into the United half, Williams smashed the ball off the advancing Rankin and watched aghast as it flew by him into the net for Rankin's second goal of the season.

The visitors refused to panic at the early setback and Paul Cairney's stiff shot in 14 minutes was blocked by Cierzniak, who was well-positioned in the United goal.

Pressure from the tangerine-shirted midfielders forced the otherwise impressive Claros to make a slack pass and as a swift counter-attack reached its climax the home fans would have expected more from Mackay-Steven than a wayward shot across goal.

Hibernian deservedly drew level midway through the first half when Griffiths' inch-perfect free-kick from the left was flicked past Cierzniak by the head of Easter Road skipper McPake.

And Griffiths threatened to get on the scoresheet himself twice before half time. His dipping shot from 22 yards landed on the roof of the net and his fierce angled drive was touched on to the junction of post and bar by Cierzniak.

After the interval, a superb challenge by McGivern thwarted Keith Watson in the Hibs box as the home fans screamed for a penalty.

But those same supporters were left speechless when Hibs moved ahead thanks to a sublime strike by Griffiths.

The Hibs talisman picked up the ball in his own half, hared down the left with the ball under his control and then hammered it past Cierzniak from 25 yards.

Stuart Armstrong, Russell and Mackay-Steven probed the Hibs defence for gaps, but it was Keith Watson who came closest to a goal when he headed a Barry Douglas free-kick just over the bar after an hour.

Two minutes later he made a great saving challenge on Cairney to prevent a two-goal deficit.

Williams tipped an Armstrong header over the bar and the Hibs goalie was a relieved figure when Rankin's cracking cross from the left was headed over from six yards by United captain Jon Daly.

With four minutes remaining, the home side benefited from a mistake by referee Alan Muir, who awarded United a penalty for McGivern's trip on the speeding Mackay-Steven despite the contact happening just outside the box.

Russell's finish from 12 yards, his 20th goal of the season, was clinical and these two evenly-matched sides had to settle for a point apiece.

Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (4)

Dundee United

  • 01 Cierzniak
  • 02 Dillon
  • 04 McLean
  • 12 Watson
  • 06 Flood
  • 08 Rankin
  • 10 Ryan (Douglas - 58' )
  • 11 Mackay-Steven Booked
  • 16 Armstrong (Gardyne - 78' )
  • 07 Russell
  • 09 Daly Booked

Substitutes

  • 13 Banks
  • 03 Douglas
  • 44 Souttar
  • 14 Millar
  • 15 Gardyne
  • 18 Dow
  • 27 Thomson

Hibernian

  • 01 Williams
  • 03 McGivern
  • 04 Hanlon
  • 06 McPake
  • 08 Claros
  • 11 Cairney
  • 16 Stevenson
  • 17 Done (Handling - 86' )
  • 20 Taiwo Booked
  • 28 Robertson
  • 09 Griffiths (Doyle - 69' )

Substitutes

  • 31 Murdoch
  • 18 Maybury
  • 37 Forster
  • 07 Deegan
  • 10 Doyle
  • 24 Handling
  • 29 Caldwell
Ref: Muir
Att: 6,160

Match Stats

Shots

8 11

On target

2 6

Corners

4 3

Fouls

11 16

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +3:10 Full time

Full Time The referee ends the match.

90:00 +1:33

Michael Gardyne crosses the ball, clearance by Paul Hanlon.

90:00 +0:25

Keith Watson produces a cross. The referee penalises Michael Gardyne for handball. Ben Williams takes the free kick.

89:31

Free kick awarded for a foul by Tom Taiwo on John Rankin. Sean Dillon restarts play with the free kick.

88:37

John Rankin gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Scott Robertson. Ben Williams restarts play with the free kick.

87:15

Corner taken by Paul Cairney from the right by-line to the near post, John Rankin makes a clearance.

85:56 Substitution

Substitution Danny Handling joins the action as a substitute, replacing Matt Done.

85:21

Assist by Gary Mackay-Steven.

85:21 Goal scored

Goal! - Johnny Russell - Dundee U 2 - 2 Hibernian Placed penalty scored by Johnny Russell. Dundee Utd 2-2 Hibernian.

84:32

Ryan McGivern gives away a Penalty for an unfair challenge on Gary Mackay-Steven.

82:54

John Rankin crosses the ball, Close range headed effort by Jon Daly clears the crossbar.

81:19

Inswinging corner taken by Willo Flood from the left by-line, save made by Ben Williams.

79:37

Tom Taiwo concedes a free kick for a foul on Gary Mackay-Steven. Barry Douglas crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right channel, clearance made by James McPake.

78:46

Direct free kick taken by Barry Douglas.

78:46 Booking

Booking Tom Taiwo goes into the book.

78:41

Tom Taiwo challenges John Rankin unfairly and gives away a free kick.

78:00

Unfair challenge on Matt Done by John Rankin results in a free kick. Matt Done crosses the ball in from the free kick, Brian McLean makes a clearance.

77:03

Ben Williams restarts play with the free kick.

77:03 Substitution

Substitution (Dundee Utd) makes a substitution, with Michael Gardyne coming on for Stuart Armstrong.

77:03

Johnny Russell is flagged offside by the assistant referee.

75:32

Free kick awarded for a foul by Gary Mackay-Steven on Ryan McGivern. Free kick crossed right-footed by Paul Cairney, clearance made by Brian McLean.

72:25

Barry Douglas takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by James McPake.

72:09

The ball is swung over by Keith Watson, Stuart Armstrong takes a shot. Save made by Ben Williams.

70:36

Sean Dillon gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Eoin Doyle. Free kick crossed left-footed by Matt Done, Paul Hanlon challenges Keith Watson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Radoslaw Cierzniak.

68:25 Substitution

Substitution Eoin Doyle joins the action as a substitute, replacing Leigh Griffiths.

68:09

Effort from just outside the area by John Rankin goes over the target.

64:39

Paul Cairney has an effort at goal from outside the area which misses left.

63:06

Direct free kick taken by Ben Williams.

63:06 Booking

Booking The referee books Gary Mackay-Steven for unsporting behaviour.

62:59

Foul by Gary Mackay-Steven on Lewis Stevenson, free kick awarded.

59:23

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Stuart Armstrong by Paul Cairney. The ball is swung over by Barry Douglas, Keith Watson has a headed effort from close range and clears the bar.

57:35 Substitution

Substitution Barry Douglas is brought on as a substitute for Richie Ryan.

57:19

Foul by Scott Robertson on Richie Ryan, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Willo Flood.

55:10

Richie Ryan concedes a free kick for a foul on Tom Taiwo. Free kick taken by Paul Hanlon.

53:56

Unfair challenge on Jon Daly by Scott Robertson results in a free kick. Jon Daly takes the direct free kick.

52:44

The ball is crossed by Keith Watson, Ben Williams makes a save.

52:01

Tom Taiwo gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gary Mackay-Steven. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Willo Flood, Ryan McGivern manages to make a clearance.

50:58

Assist on the goal came from Matt Done.

50:58 Goal scored

Goal! - Leigh Griffiths - Dundee U 1 - 2 Hibernian Leigh Griffiths finds the back of the net with a goal from just outside the penalty box to the top right corner of the goal. Dundee Utd 1-2 Hibernian.

50:13

Corner taken right-footed by Willo Flood from the left by-line, save made by Ben Williams.

49:24

Gary Mackay-Steven fouled by Scott Robertson, the ref awards a free kick. Willo Flood restarts play with the free kick.

48:49

Effort on goal by Stuart Armstrong from outside the penalty box goes harmlessly over the bar.

45:01

The referee gets the second half started.

45:00 +1:08 Half time

Half Time The referee blows for half time.

45:00 +0:16

Unfair challenge on Willo Flood by Scott Robertson results in a free kick. Richie Ryan takes the free kick.

43:47

Jorge Claros fouled by Gary Mackay-Steven, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Lewis Stevenson.

42:47

Effort from the edge of the box by Leigh Griffiths hits the post.

41:09

Gary Mackay-Steven gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on James McPake. Direct free kick taken by Ben Williams.

40:01

Effort on goal by Leigh Griffiths from outside the box goes harmlessly over the bar.

39:20

Long range shot from Ryan McGivern misses to the left of the goal.

38:30

Gary Mackay-Steven fouled by Tom Taiwo, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Gary Mackay-Steven.

35:22

John Rankin concedes a free kick for a foul on Jorge Claros. Free kick crossed left-footed by Leigh Griffiths, clearance by Brian McLean.

31:51

Foul by Scott Robertson on Willo Flood, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Sean Dillon.

31:00

Free kick awarded for a foul by Jorge Claros on Willo Flood. Jon Daly restarts play with the free kick.

30:24

Paul Cairney takes a shot. Blocked by Jon Daly.

26:26

The assist for the goal came from Leigh Griffiths.

26:26 Goal scored

Goal! - James McPake - Dundee U 1 - 1 Hibernian James McPake finds the net with a headed goal from inside the six-yard box. Dundee Utd 1-1 Hibernian.

25:39

Keith Watson concedes a free kick for a foul on Tom Taiwo. Centre by Leigh Griffiths,

24:27

Free kick awarded for a foul by Willo Flood on Matt Done. Free kick taken by Matt Done.

23:53

Tom Taiwo produces a right-footed shot from just outside the area that goes harmlessly over the target.

23:00

Effort on goal by Stuart Armstrong from just outside the area goes harmlessly over the target.

22:03

Short corner taken by Willo Flood.

21:01

Leigh Griffiths takes a shot. Radoslaw Cierzniak makes a comfortable save.

20:17

Effort on goal by Gary Mackay-Steven from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.

16:37

Matt Done takes a corner.

16:10 Booking

Booking Jon Daly is cautioned by the ref for dissent.

13:47

Handball decision goes against Paul Cairney. Radoslaw Cierzniak restarts play with the free kick.

13:33

Effort from 18 yards by Paul Cairney. Save by Radoslaw Cierzniak.

11:44

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Stuart Armstrong by Jorge Claros. Willo Flood restarts play with the free kick.

11:26

Centre by Ryan McGivern.

9:41

The referee blows for offside. Ben Williams takes the direct free kick.

9:10

Unfair challenge on Stuart Armstrong by Jorge Claros results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Jon Daly.

5:59 Goal scored

Goal! - John Rankin - Dundee U 1 - 0 Hibernian John Rankin finds the back of the net with a headed goal from close range. Dundee Utd 1-0 Hibernian.

4:18

Matt Done takes a shot. Richie Ryan gets a block in.

3:15

The referee blows for offside against Leigh Griffiths. Indirect free kick taken by Radoslaw Cierzniak.

0:00

The referee gets the game underway.

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