Dundee United came out on top in a breathtaking five-goal thriller against Kilmarnock at Tannadice.

Gary Mackay-Steven and Alexei Eremenko hit first half goals, then the visitors took the lead when Andrew Robertson struggled with Kris Boyd's lob.

Curtis Good restored parity instantly with a header into the top corner.

The chances continued for both teams, but United finished the strongest and John Rankin found a winner from close range.

With Inverness held at home to Hearts, the three points puts Jackie McNamara's side into fourth place as they chase a Europa League qualifying spot.

In a sign of things to come, Nadir Ciftci had Craig Samson beaten within the first five minutes, cutting inside and being denied only by the post.

It didn't take long for Jackie McNamara's men to find themselves in front though.

Jackson Irvine slipped under pressure from Mackay-Steven as the long ball was played forward, and the Scotland hopeful had all the time in the world to set himself and pick his spot beyond the goalkeeper.

The game was being played at an electric pace and Killie thought they had equalised when Lee Ashcroft headed a corner into the net, but referee John Beaton ruled it out.

The home side responded with Mackay-Steven again getting a sight of goal, but this time his low drive whistled just wide.

The game ebbed and flowed from end-to-end and it seemed a matter of time before the game saw a second goal.

Radoslaw Cierzniak denied Kris Boyd with a one-handed save before Jeroen Tesselaar cracked the rebound off the post.

Shortly after Eremenko, making his first start, fired a low effort down the middle on the counter attack after Ciftci and Rankin had threatened at the other end.

There was no let-up in the play and United were kicking themselves for not making it 2-0 seven minutes before half-time.

A string of patient passes outside the area cut Kilmarnock open and Rankin fired a low ball towards the far post to Keith Watson, who slid in but couldn't quite connect to steer it home.

They were made to pay for that miss when Eremenko fired Kilmarnock back on level terms with a wonderful strike.

Cierzniak's clearance went straight to Rory McKenzie who headed forward into the path of the Finnish playmaker, and on the turn he cracked a beautiful effort into the net from a good 30 yards out.

Both sides returned for the second-half determined to keep up the relentless pace. Boyd twice found himself with good early chances inside the area, but after firing his first effort over the bar his second shot was charged down by Watson.

However Boyd was the catalyst in Killie's opener. Cierzniak rushed out from goal but was beaten to the ball by the striker. It looked like Andrew Robertson had got back in time to clear, but he somehow missed the header and the ball bounced into the net.

Allan Johnston had just a minute to celebrate the lead before United were back on level terms; Mackay-Steven's corner headed into the top corner by Good.

The Tangerines had recovered from a 2-1 deficit in the Scottish Cup to defeat Kilmarnock 5-2, and perhaps taking inspiration from that night they soon found themselves back in front.

Rankin fired a left foot shot from outside the area which Samson had to dive full stretch to tip wide. However he wasn't to be denied as United kept the pressure on, and after good play from Ciftci on the left he blasted into the roof of the net from close range.

The chances continued for both sides but it was United who finished stronger, and Robertson could have made it four with a pile-driver which Samson had to tip over the bar.

Lineup, Bookings (2) & Substitutions (4)

Dundee United

  • 01 Cierzniak
  • 12 Watson
  • 26 Robertson
  • 08 Rankin
  • 03 Good
  • 20 Souttar
  • 10 Armstrong (Dow - 56' )
  • 06 Paton
  • 21 Ciftci (Gomis - 85' )
  • 11 Mackay-Steven Booked
  • 19 Gauld (El Alagui - 57' )

Substitutes

  • 02 Dillon
  • 09 Graham
  • 16 Wilson
  • 18 Dow
  • 25 McCallum
  • 27 Gomis
  • 29 El Alagui

Kilmarnock

  • 01 Samson
  • 02 Tesselaar
  • 08 Clingan
  • 30 Ashcroft
  • 33 Muirhead (Johnston - 76' )
  • 29 Pascali
  • 18 McKenzie
  • 05 Irvine
  • 09 Boyd
  • 20 Eremenko Booked
  • 28 Slater

Substitutes

  • 07 Nicholson
  • 10 Johnston
  • 14 Moberg-Karlsson
  • 22 Maksimenko
  • 26 O'Hara
  • 31 Brennan
  • 36 Kiltie
Ref: John Beaton
Att: 6,038

Match Stats

Shots

16 9

On target

7 4

Corners

10 5

Fouls

8 13

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Dundee United 3, Kilmarnock 2.

90:00 +3:04 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Dundee United 3, Kilmarnock 2.

90:00 +1:13

Farid El Alagui (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

90:00 +1:13

Foul by Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock).

86:52

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

86:52

Foul by Chris Johnston (Kilmarnock).

85:12

Attempt missed. John Rankin (Dundee United) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

84:37 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Morgaro Gomis replaces Nadir Ciftci.

84:14

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Craig Samson.

84:04

Attempt saved. Andrew Robertson (Dundee United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

83:28

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Gary Mackay-Steven.

81:10

Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

81:10

Foul by Jeroen Tesselaar (Kilmarnock).

79:49

Attempt saved. Alexei Eremenko (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the left is saved in the top left corner.

79:27

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

79:27

Foul by Chris Johnston (Kilmarnock).

78:18

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Curtis Good.

76:30

Foul by Farid El Alagui (Dundee United).

76:30

Sammy Clingan (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

75:42 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Kilmarnock. Chris Johnston replaces Robbie Muirhead.

75:12 Booking

Booking Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) is shown the yellow card.

75:08

Foul by Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United).

75:08

Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

72:00

Jackson Irvine (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the left wing.

71:59

Foul by Ryan Dow (Dundee United).

70:45 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 3, Kilmarnock 2. John Rankin (Dundee United) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the high centre of the goal.

69:28

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Manuel Pascali.

69:14

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Craig Samson.

69:06

Attempt saved. John Rankin (Dundee United) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

67:45

Paul Paton (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

67:45

Foul by Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock).

66:44

Foul by Ryan Dow (Dundee United).

66:44

Alexei Eremenko (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

64:27 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 2, Kilmarnock 2. Curtis Good (Dundee United) header from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Gary Mackay-Steven following a corner.

64:22

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Robbie Muirhead.

63:03 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 1, Kilmarnock 2. Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal.

61:48

Attempt blocked. John Rankin (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

60:30

Attempt missed. Andrew Robertson (Dundee United) left footed shot from the left side of the box is too high.

59:06

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Jackson Irvine.

58:48

Attempt blocked. Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

56:56

Attempt missed. Craig Slater (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left from a direct free kick.

56:16 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Farid El Alagui replaces Ryan Gauld.

55:56 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Ryan Dow replaces Stuart Armstrong.

55:45

Foul by Ryan Gauld (Dundee United).

55:45

Sammy Clingan (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

53:56

Attempt missed. Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left.

50:54

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Kris Boyd.

50:31

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Jackson Irvine.

46:49

Foul by Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United).

46:49

Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

45:00

Second Half begins Dundee United 1, Kilmarnock 1.

45:00 +0:07 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Dundee United 1, Kilmarnock 1.

44:26

Curtis Good (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

44:26

Foul by Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock).

43:24

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Rory McKenzie.

42:11

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by John Souttar.

40:59

Attempt missed. Sammy Clingan (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

39:24 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 1, Kilmarnock 1. Alexei Eremenko (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner.

34:34

Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

34:34

Foul by Alexei Eremenko (Kilmarnock).

29:51

Attempt missed. Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) header from the centre of the box is too high.

29:00

Attempt saved. John Rankin (Dundee United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

26:31

Hand ball by John Rankin (Dundee United).

26:00

Craig Slater (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

25:59

Foul by Ryan Gauld (Dundee United).

25:34

Jackson Irvine (Kilmarnock) hits the left post with a right footed shot from the left side of the box.

25:16

Attempt saved. Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

22:18

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

22:18

Foul by Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock).

21:01

Attempt saved. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

19:26

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

19:26

Foul by Craig Slater (Kilmarnock).

18:53

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

18:34

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Robbie Muirhead.

18:18

Attempt blocked. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

18:01

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

18:01

Foul by Jeroen Tesselaar (Kilmarnock).

16:10 Booking

Booking Alexei Eremenko (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card.

16:05

Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

16:05

Foul by Alexei Eremenko (Kilmarnock).

14:12

Attempt missed. Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

11:42

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

11:42

Foul by Lee Ashcroft (Kilmarnock).

11:17

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Curtis Good.

9:50 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 1, Kilmarnock 0. Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner.

9:03

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by John Souttar.

5:13

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

4:55

Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) hits the left post with a right footed shot from the left side of the box.

1:59

Hand ball by Robbie Muirhead (Kilmarnock).

0:55

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Lee Ashcroft.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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