Neil Lennon hailed Hibernian for winning their “biggest league match in years” – and praised his berated match-winner Jason Cummings in equal measure.
Cummings’ 38th-minute strike earned Hibs all three points and sent them nine clear of Falkirk at the top of the Ladbrokes Championship table, where they are 10 above opponents Dundee United.
But the 21-year-old then took the shine off the 1-0 victory when he was sent off for collecting two “stupid” yellow cards in the space of just three minutes – the second for punching the ball into the net as he dived for a header.
Lennon, who was sent to the stands in the 90th minute, said Cummings was full of regret and would need to learn, but was thrilled with the striker’s display.
The Hibs boss said: “Jason was stupid and he knows that, he’s feeling remorseful – but he’s won me the game.
“He’s let his mates down for the last 10 or 15 minutes while we were in complete control of the game.
“He’s a young lad and he has to learn, but he’s a great talent. He’s a big-game player.
“He can be happy with his contribution but you can still have a go at him.
“I thought we were outstanding and the scoreline flattered Dundee United.
“I played it down during the week but we knew how massive it was psychologically to win here tonight and we’ve done it.”
Dundee United manager Ray McKinnon, who pledged to try to win all of his side’s remaining 10 games in their faltering title bid, claimed referee Don Robertson “got it wrong” with Lewis Toshney’s pivotal red card in the 32nd minute.
He said: “I think the sending-off had a major impact on the game. It’s hard enough playing with 11 men against Hibs, it’s even more difficult with 10.
“I was really disappointed with that decision. We’ve seen it from our angle and he’s pulled out the tackle and not touched him.
“So, we were disappointed with the ref’s decision on that. In my opinion he got it wrong.
“The game changed with that decision, it’s as simple as that.”