By Derek Clark at Tannadice
A Blair Spittal masterclass inspired United to a resounding win over a woeful Kilmarnock and breathe new life into their Premiership survival hopes.
Spittal broke the deadlock after eight minutes when he fired a low drive into the far corner after linking up with Simon Murray.
Mark Durnan, on as a substitute for Coll Donaldson who was stretchered off with a suspected broken nose, netted United’s second just after the half hour mark when he bulleted a header past Jamie MacDonald from a Spittal corner.
Spittal scored his second of the afternoon on 38 minutes when his cross come shot deceived the Killie defence and nestled into the bottom corner.
And the influential playmaker created the Arabs fourth goal on 43 minutes when his cross was met at the back post by John Rankin who volleyed home.
The second-half was a quieter affair, although Sean Dillon netted a superb solo goal when he slotted past MacDonald after linking up with both Murray and Billy McKay.
Josh Magennis headed a late consolation for a shambolic Kilmarnock side.
Arabs boss Mixu Paatelainen was delighted with his team’s winning display.
“We played with a very good intensity, the tempo was excellent and the work rate was unbelievable.
When asked if he felt his side could avoid relegation he said.
“It is only one game but we believe, maybe we’re daft, but we’ll fight till the end.”
Meanwhile a dejected Kilmarnock manager Gary Locke said afterwards.
“We were second best all over the pitch and in a game of that magnitude its disappointing.
“All credit to Dundee United, they deserved to be well in front at half time because they won the individual battles.”
Celtic extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to six points after a 3-1 victory over St Johnstone. Gary Mackay-Steven looked back to his old self as he grabbed a double while team-mate Stuart Armstrong added a third. Steven MacLean was on the scoresheet for the visitors.
Inverness CT crept into top-six after lifeless encoutner against Partick Thistle. The Jags grab a welcomed point to push them further away from the relegation play-off battle after the 0-0 draw.
Falkirk lost ground in the title race after a 1-1 draw with Livingston. Rangers play Morton at Cappielow on Monday.