A Ryan Gauld-inspired Dundee United defeated Partick Thistle, who had Conrad Balatoni and Stuart Bannigan sent off late on.

Gauld assisted all four goals, the first of which was scored by Gary Mackay-Steven within two minutes.

Aaron Muirhead equalised from the spot, but a fine Andy Robertson strike and Mackay-Steven's second restored United's ascendancy.

Brian Graham came on to net the hosts' fourth, again teed up by Gauld.

The 17-year-old may have excelled in the face of a largely lacklustre Thistle performance, but the quality of each of his goal-providing passes spoke volumes.

They allowed Scotland cap Mackay-Steven to bag a brace, released marauding Robertson to drill in an important second, and provided former Raith Rovers striker Graham with his first United goal.

Jackie McNamara's men have now made it three wins from their last four Scottish Premiership games and sit fourth in the league.

Partick Thistle, who were only a threat at the beginning of the second half, had Balatoni sent off by referee Willie Collum for a second booking when the Jags were already trailling 2-1.

Andy Robertson watches his impressive strike go into the far corner and give United a 2-1 lead

Andy Robertson watches his impressive strike go into the far corner and give United a 2-1 lead

And Bannigan's even later dismissal, for a lunge on Mackay-Steven, arrived with the scoring completed.

Thistle's only clean sheet this season came in the goalless draw with United back on the opening day of the season in August, but any hopes of a repeat were dashed after 90 seconds at Tannadice.

Mackay-Steven was found all too easily and shot low past goalkeeper Scott Fox from the edge of the box.

It set the tone for a largely one-way first half, Nadir Ciftci going close with a curler and former Thistle midfielder Paul Paton narrowly missing.

Then the momentum of Muirhead clearing Mackay-Steven's lob over Fox took the Jags defender into the goal and his force snapped the rope supporting the net to bring a five-minute stoppage for a bit of DIY.

After that breather, United administered more attacking pressure to a gaping visiting defence, with Thistle having only a tame Kris Doolan effort to claim as a shot on target.

But that pattern of play changed after the restart, Ross Forbes instrumental in bringing more of a threat down the left.

It was the former Motherwell midfielder's shot on goal that struck the hand of Souttar, prompting referee Collum to point to the spot.

Muirhead stepped up to calmly stroke the ball into the corner but United were in front again just over 10 minutes later.

Gauld's sweeping pass out to the left timed perfectly with Robertson's run and the ex-Queen's Park player whacked it into the far corner.

Balatoni walked 60 seconds before Mackay-Steven sealed the deal for the Tangerines, finishing off another splendid Gauld pass from 10 yards.

The fourth goal was emphatic, Graham slamming Gauld's precisely measured through-ball high into Fox's net.

Lineup, Bookings (10) & Substitutions (5)

Dundee United

  • 01 Cierzniak
  • 16 Wilson Booked
  • 26 Robertson
  • 06 Paton Booked (Gomis - 76' )
  • 20 Souttar Booked
  • 05 Gunning Booked
  • 10 Armstrong (Graham - 80' )
  • 08 Rankin
  • 21 Ciftci (Goodwillie - 80' )
  • 19 Gauld
  • 11 Mackay-Steven

Substitutes

  • 02 Dillon
  • 07 Goodwillie
  • 09 Graham
  • 12 Watson
  • 18 Dow
  • 25 McCallum
  • 27 Gomis

Partick Thistle

  • 01 Fox
  • 16 McMillan Booked
  • 03 Taylor-Sinclair Booked
  • 10 Forbes (Lawless - 64' )
  • 06 Balatoni Dismissed after an earlier booking
  • 05 Muirhead
  • 07 Craigen
  • 19 Osbourne Booked
  • 09 Doolan
  • 23 Higginbotham (Elliott - 70' )
  • 08 Bannigan Dismissed

Substitutes

  • 11 Lawless
  • 12 Gallacher
  • 13 Gabriel
  • 14 Elliott
  • 17 Baird
  • 20 Kerr
  • 31 Wilson
Ref: William Collum
Att: 6,700

Match Stats

Shots

15 7

On target

10 4

Corners

4 7

Fouls

8 11

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Dundee United 4, Partick Thistle 1.

90:00 +3:02 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Dundee United 4, Partick Thistle 1.

90:00 +2:17

Attempt saved. David Goodwillie (Dundee United) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

90:00 +1:15

Corner, Partick Thistle. Conceded by John Souttar.

89:29 Dismissal

Dismissal Stuart Bannigan (Partick Thistle) is shown the red card.

89:24

Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

89:24

Foul by Stuart Bannigan (Partick Thistle).

88:30

Corner, Partick Thistle. Conceded by Radoslaw Cierzniak.

88:19

Attempt saved. Christie Elliott (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

87:44 Booking

Booking Gavin Gunning (Dundee United) is shown the yellow card.

87:31

Foul by Gavin Gunning (Dundee United).

87:31

Christie Elliott (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

84:14 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 4, Partick Thistle 1. Brian Graham (Dundee United) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Ryan Gauld.

81:01

Foul by Ryan Gauld (Dundee United).

81:01

Isaac Osbourne (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

80:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Brian Graham replaces Stuart Armstrong.

79:51 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. David Goodwillie replaces Nadir Ciftci.

79:14

Corner, Partick Thistle. Conceded by John Souttar.

79:05

Attempt blocked. James Craigen (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

76:59 Booking

Booking Aaron Taylor-Sinclair (Partick Thistle) is shown the yellow card.

76:51

Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

76:51

Foul by Aaron Taylor-Sinclair (Partick Thistle).

76:02 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 3, Partick Thistle 1. Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Ryan Gauld.

75:09 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Morgaro Gomis replaces Paul Paton.

74:08 Dismissal

Dismissal Second yellow card to Conrad Balatoni (Partick Thistle).

74:00

Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

73:58

Foul by Conrad Balatoni (Partick Thistle).

72:52

John Rankin (Dundee United) hits the right post with a right footed shot from outside the box.

71:41

Corner, Partick Thistle. Conceded by Ryan Gauld.

69:45 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Partick Thistle. Christie Elliott replaces Kallum Higginbotham.

69:13 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 2, Partick Thistle 1. Andrew Robertson (Dundee United) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Ryan Gauld.

65:42

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Aaron Muirhead.

64:27

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Aaron Taylor-Sinclair.

63:20 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Partick Thistle. Steven Lawless replaces Ross Forbes.

62:50

Andrew Robertson (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

62:50

Foul by Kris Doolan (Partick Thistle).

62:18

Attempt saved. James Craigen (Partick Thistle) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

60:51 Booking

Booking Paul Paton (Dundee United) is shown the yellow card.

60:39

Foul by Paul Paton (Dundee United).

60:39

Aaron Taylor-Sinclair (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

59:11

Attempt missed. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) right footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the right.

57:28

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Stuart Bannigan.

56:28 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 1, Partick Thistle 1. Aaron Muirhead (Partick Thistle) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.

56:02

Penalty conceded by John Souttar (Dundee United) with a hand ball in the penalty area.

55:41

Attempt blocked. Ross Forbes (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

54:47

Foul by Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United).

54:47

Aaron Taylor-Sinclair (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick on the right wing.

53:52 Booking

Booking Jordan McMillan (Partick Thistle) is shown the yellow card.

53:40

John Rankin (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

53:40

Foul by Jordan McMillan (Partick Thistle).

51:09 Booking

Booking Mark Wilson (Dundee United) is shown the yellow card.

51:04

Foul by Mark Wilson (Dundee United).

51:04

Ross Forbes (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick on the left wing.

48:06

Attempt missed. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

47:46

Attempt saved. Ryan Gauld (Dundee United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

46:07

John Rankin (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

46:07

Foul by Isaac Osbourne (Partick Thistle).

45:00

Second Half begins Dundee United 1, Partick Thistle 0.

45:00 +5:02 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Dundee United 1, Partick Thistle 0.

45:00 +3:54

Attempt missed. Conrad Balatoni (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is high and wide to the left.

45:00 +3:36

Corner, Partick Thistle. Conceded by Andrew Robertson.

45:00 +0:31 Booking

Booking Isaac Osbourne (Partick Thistle) is shown the yellow card.

45:00 +0:27

Ryan Gauld (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

45:00 +0:27

Foul by Isaac Osbourne (Partick Thistle).

44:44

Corner, Partick Thistle. Conceded by John Souttar.

44:00

Stuart Bannigan (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

43:58

Foul by Paul Paton (Dundee United).

43:15

John Souttar (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

43:15

Foul by Kris Doolan (Partick Thistle).

42:15

Attempt saved. Kris Doolan (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

41:00

Attempt saved. Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

36:38

Attempt missed. Ryan Gauld (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

25:49

Hand ball by Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United).

24:50

Attempt saved. Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

20:12 Booking

Booking Conrad Balatoni (Partick Thistle) is shown the yellow card.

20:01

Mark Wilson (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

20:01

Foul by Conrad Balatoni (Partick Thistle).

19:05

Corner, Partick Thistle. Conceded by Ryan Gauld.

17:27

Attempt missed. Paul Paton (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

13:35

Attempt saved. Ryan Gauld (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

10:39

Mark Wilson (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

10:39

Foul by Kris Doolan (Partick Thistle).

5:27

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Scott Fox.

5:18

Attempt saved. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.

1:49 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 1, Partick Thistle 0. Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Ryan Gauld.

0:19

Foul by Kris Doolan (Partick Thistle).

0:19

John Souttar (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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