Dundee United dealt a blow to Motherwell's hopes of finishing second in the Premiership with a comprehensive 5-1 victory at Tannadice.

A sublime double from the impressive Nadir Ciftci put The Tangerines two up.

And strikes from Stuart Armstrong, Ryan Dow and Brian Graham meant Lionel Ainsworth's late effort was little consolation for McCall's men.

The result means Motherwell sit in third and trail Aberdeen by four points with three games to go.

It was a third straight win for United over Well, who have now not beaten the Tannadice outfit in their four meetings this season.

Ryan Dow celebrates with Gary Mackay-Steven

Dow (left) scored United's fourth goal in their rout of Motherwell

Although Motherwell were boosted by the return of Keith Lasley, Stevie Hammell was captain for the day, but it would turn out to be a disappointing day for the Well stalwart as he made his 500th appearance for the club.

A win for Motherwell would have virtually guaranteed at least a third-place finish and European football again next season.

But it was the home side who looked inspired following a minutes' applause for United club legend Frank Kopel, who died earlier this month.

Following great play from Armstrong, the classy midfielder jinking away from his Motherwell markers to set up the opening goal.

His accurate through ball found the feet of Ciftci, who turned inside at the edge of the box before firing home a terrific shot into the top corner.

The class of Ciftci was soon to the fore again and, in an almost carbon copy move to that which led to the first goal, the Turkish striker collected a pass from Armstrong, but this time Motherwell goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen pulled off a fine save.

Soon after, the Faroese international had to dive low to save a fierce shot from Gary Mackay-Steven as United continued to dominate.

Just before half-time it was 2-0 to United when another swift attack completely outflanked the Motherwell defence.

Armstrong flashed in a cross and there was Ciftci again with goal number 17 for the season to put United in complete control.

Clearly unhappy with the first-half showing, Motherwell manager Stuart McCall made two changes at the break with Henri Anier and Fraser Kerr making way for Ainsworth and Craig Moore.

It certainly helped give the Steelmen some much needed impetus and Lasley should have pulled a goal back for Motherwell, but he blazed a shot high over the bar from only eight yards out.

However, on the hour mark, United sealed this match with a goal of sublime quality.

A header on the half-way line from Ciftci found Ryan Dow, who back-heeled perfectly into the path of Armstrong, who drove on towards the Motherwell goal before dispatching his shot into the top corner to virtually make the points safe.

Soon after, Ciftci almost had his hat-trick, but Nielsen got a hand to the shot to divert it on to the post.

United's fourth came soon after as a fantastic long pass from Gavin Gunning found Dow unmarked in the box and his finish into the corner was perfect as United put Motherwell to the sword.

Another United attack then tore Motherwell apart through the middle, presenting substitute Graham with the chance and the striker calmly slotted it home.

United kept pressing for more goals, but it was Motherwell who found the net next when Ainsworth's shot rifled in from the edge of the box.

Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (6)

Dundee United

  • 01 Cierzniak
  • 12 Watson
  • 26 Robertson
  • 08 Rankin
  • 02 Dillon
  • 05 Gunning
  • 11 Mackay-Steven
  • 06 Paton (Gauld - 69' )
  • 21 Ciftci (Graham - 69' )
  • 10 Armstrong (Gomis - 73' )
  • 18 Dow

Substitutes

  • 09 Graham
  • 16 Wilson
  • 19 Gauld
  • 20 Souttar
  • 25 McCallum
  • 27 Gomis
  • 29 El Alagui

Motherwell

  • 12 Nielsen
  • 02 Reid
  • 03 Hammell
  • 26 Leitch Booked
  • 05 Hutchinson
  • 06 McManus Booked
  • 20 Kerr (Ainsworth - 45' )
  • 14 Lasley Booked
  • 24 Anier (Moore - 45' )
  • 09 Sutton
  • 11 Vigurs (Francis-Angol - 77' )

Substitutes

  • 01 Hollis
  • 07 McFadden
  • 17 Francis-Angol
  • 22 Moore
  • 23 Murray
  • 25 Ainsworth
  • 34 Cadden
Ref: Steven McLean
Att: 6,383

Match Stats

Shots

13 5

On target

8 1

Corners

7 1

Fouls

9 19

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Dundee United 5, Motherwell 1.

90:00 +1:08 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Dundee United 5, Motherwell 1.

90:00 +0:20

Brian Graham (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

90:00 +0:20

Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

90:00 +0:03

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

90:00 +0:03

Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

89:27 Booking

Booking Stephen McManus (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

89:21

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

89:21

Foul by Stephen McManus (Motherwell).

88:34

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

88:34

Craig Reid (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

87:02 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 5, Motherwell 1. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Craig Moore.

86:30

Attempt blocked. Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

84:49 Booking

Booking Jack Leitch (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

84:44

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

84:44

Foul by Jack Leitch (Motherwell).

83:33

Foul by Keith Watson (Dundee United).

83:33

Jack Leitch (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

82:18

Sean Dillon (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

82:18

Foul by Craig Moore (Motherwell).

80:47 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 5, Motherwell 0. Brian Graham (Dundee United) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Andrew Robertson.

79:33

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Shaun Hutchinson.

76:17 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Zaine Francis-Angol replaces Iain Vigurs.

74:54

Hand ball by Stephen McManus (Motherwell).

74:08

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

74:08

Foul by Steven Hammell (Motherwell).

73:08

Foul by Brian Graham (Dundee United).

73:08

Stephen McManus (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

72:46 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Morgaro Gomis replaces Stuart Armstrong.

71:56 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 4, Motherwell 0. Ryan Dow (Dundee United) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Gavin Gunning with a cross.

68:50 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Ryan Gauld replaces Paul Paton.

68:42 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Brian Graham replaces Nadir Ciftci.

66:24

Foul by Gavin Gunning (Dundee United).

66:24

John Sutton (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

66:05

Attempt saved. Gavin Gunning (Dundee United) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.

64:55

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

64:55

Foul by Craig Reid (Motherwell).

64:24

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

62:07

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

61:29

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Steven Hammell.

60:23 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 3, Motherwell 0. Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Ryan Dow.

56:00

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Steven Hammell.

53:53

Attempt missed. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top right corner.

53:03

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

53:03

Steven Hammell (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

51:18

Attempt missed. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) left footed shot from the left side of the box is just a bit too high.

50:54

Foul by Sean Dillon (Dundee United).

50:54

Craig Moore (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

49:08

Attempt missed. Keith Lasley (Motherwell) left footed shot from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

45:00

Second Half begins Dundee United 2, Motherwell 0.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Lionel Ainsworth replaces Fraser Kerr.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Craig Moore replaces Henri Anier.

45:00 +0:57 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Dundee United 2, Motherwell 0.

43:19

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

43:19

Foul by Steven Hammell (Motherwell).

41:41

Gavin Gunning (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

41:41

Foul by John Sutton (Motherwell).

40:20 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 2, Motherwell 0. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Stuart Armstrong.

38:54

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Sean Dillon.

38:04

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

38:04

Foul by Iain Vigurs (Motherwell).

37:03

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Fraser Kerr.

36:42

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

36:42

Foul by Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell).

35:05

Attempt blocked. Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

33:04

Sean Dillon (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

33:04

Foul by John Sutton (Motherwell).

30:42

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

30:42

Foul by Henri Anier (Motherwell).

28:05 Booking

Booking Keith Lasley (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

28:00

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

27:56

Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

23:42

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Gunnar Nielsen.

23:16

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

21:40

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

20:17

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

20:17

Fraser Kerr (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

17:44

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

17:44

Foul by Fraser Kerr (Motherwell).

13:39

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Shaun Hutchinson.

10:13

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

10:13

Foul by Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell).

8:44

Keith Watson (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

8:44

Foul by Henri Anier (Motherwell).

8:27

Gavin Gunning (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

8:27

Foul by John Sutton (Motherwell).

7:51 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Dundee United 1, Motherwell 0. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Stuart Armstrong.

5:26

Attempt missed. Fraser Kerr (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.

4:50

John Sutton (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

4:50

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

4:20

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

3:21

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Craig Reid.

2:36

Jack Leitch (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

2:36

Foul by Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United).

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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