Dundee United hit four past a leaky Ross County defence in a thrilling Dingwall contest to record their first away win of the Premiership season.
Gary Mackay-Steven opened from the spot before Stuart Armstrong headed another.
Sean Dillon's last-man foul on County's Kevin Luckassen went unpunished and Ryan Gauld added a neat third.
United's fourth was notched by Nadir Ciftci but County made a late fightback through Ivan Sproule's deflected cross and Rocco Quinn's header.
The hosts failed to find another two goals, though, meaning they lost at home for only the fifth time in 22 league games since entering Scotland's top flight.
Dundee United's second four-goal haul of the season meant the dropping of striker David Goodwillie to the bench became a non-issue.
Preferred to lead the line instead of the Scotland international was Ciftci; the Turkish forward's bigger build and ability to get a hold of the ball through the middle were the reasons given by Jackie McNamara for that decision.
The United manager's call was well and truly justified. From the moment Ciftci packed tremendous power behind a third minute free-kick, which was well tipped over by County goalkeeper Mark Brown, it was apparent the former NAC Breda forward would have a big part to play.
His goal, United's fourth after he collected Gauld's pass to neatly take it round Brown, was the least he deserved after contributing to two of his team-mates' strikes.
Ross County defended poorly throughout and the flurry of lethal Tangerine finishing began from the penalty spot.
Mackay-Steven, perhaps motivated by seeing Watford winger Ikechi Anya make such a positive impact for Scotland during the international break, looked in the mood. Chasing down a long ball, the 23-year-old nipped in between Ben Gordon and Brown, who bundled Mackay-Steven over for a penalty.
And the former County youth player stepped up to side-foot his second goal of the season into the left corner.
One goal became two within three minutes. Ciftci linking well with Gauld before crossing for midfielder Armstrong to loop an intelligent header over Brown and in at the far post.
The game's turning point came when the hosts had their own penalty claim turned down by referee Brian Colvin.
"What Derek Adams will need to do this week is sit his players down and show them the DVD of this game and say 'why were we stepping up there?' and 'why were we not picking runners up?'"
BBC Radio Scotland summariser Peter Houston
Luckassen dispossessed a casual Dillion and was subsequently pulled down by the Irishman. It seemed a certain penalty and could have merited a red card for Dillon, but Colvin did not award it and County were furious.
United's lead was nearly reduced when Graham Carey's outswinging free-kick which Radoslaw Cierzniak touched brilliantly onto the post.
The hosts would later be frustrated by the woodwork again when Stuart Kettlewell headed a Carey cross off the upright.
It was the energetic Gauld who gave the visitors their three-goal lead; timing his run perfectly to latch onto Scotland Under-21 captain Armstrong's pass and shoot low across Brown.
Normal business resumed following the interval with Ciftci's fourth after he had earlier spurned a better chance to score.
However, Ross County began to neutralise the gaps in their back-line by finding some in Dundee United's defence.
Sproule's dipping effort from the right corner of the penalty area went in with the help of a deflection and seemed no more than a consolation for Derek Adams' side.
But United were shaken further when another whipped Carey delivery was met confidently and firmly by the diving Quinn.
Live text and stats
Sunday, 15 September 2013
Mackay-Steven (pen) 18
02 Kovacevic (Mustafi 59)
03 Gordon (De Leeuw 60)
12 Munro (Boyd 70)
08 Brittain yellow card
11 De Leeuw,
10 Armstrong (Dow 69)
21 Ciftci (Goodwillie 72)
19 Gauld (Graham 85)
Ref: ColvinAtt: 3,005
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
90:00+3:18 The game is over, as the referee blows the whistle.
90:00+2:23 Corner taken by Graham Carey.
90:00+1:42 Richard Brittain restarts play with the free kick.
90:00+1:30 The assistant referee signals for offside against Ryan Dow.
90:00+0:57 Free kick taken by Paul Paton.
90:00+0:40 Brian Graham fouled by Scott Boyd, the ref awards a free kick.
90:00+0:16 Melvin De Leeuw has an effort at goal and missed to the left of the goal.
88:14 Ryan Dow sends in a cross.
87:11 Brian McLean makes a clearance.
87:03 Keith Watson crosses the ball in from the free kick.
86:43 Free kick awarded for a foul by Melvin De Leeuw on Gary Mackay-Steven.
86:09 Corner taken by Gary Mackay-Steven from the right by-line.
84:17 Substitution Ryan Gauld leaves the field to be replaced by Brian Graham.
83:31 Free kick taken by Richard Brittain.
83:06 Brian McLean fouled by Ryan Dow, the ref awards a free kick.
82:33 Melvin De Leeuw sends in a cross.
81:41 Richard Brittain makes a clearance.
81:37 Corner taken by Gary Mackay-Steven from the right by-line.
80:52 Free kick taken by Radoslaw Cierzniak.
80:47 Free kick awarded for a foul by Orhan Mustafi on Paul Paton.
80:31 Clearance made by John Souttar.
80:20 Richard Brittain sends in a cross.
80:06 Clearance made by Sean Dillon.
80:00 Corner from the right by-line taken by Graham Carey.
79:09 Graham Carey restarts play with the free kick.
78:59 Gary Mackay-Steven is flagged offside by the assistant referee.
78:26 Shot by Rocco Quinn.
Correction - 76:37 GOAL - Rocco Quinn:Ross County 2 - 4 Dundee Utd Rocco Quinn scores a headed goal. Ross County 2-4 Dundee Utd.
76:37 GOAL - Orhan Mustafi:Ross County 2 - 4 Dundee Utd Orhan Mustafi scores with a header. Ross County 2-4 Dundee Utd.
76:32 The ball is crossed by Graham Carey.
73:25 Centre by Ivan Sproule.
71:37 Substitution (Dundee Utd) makes a substitution, with David Goodwillie coming on for Nadir Ciftci.
71:35 GOAL - Ivan Sproule:Ross County 1 - 4 Dundee Utd Ivan Sproule scores with a right foot finish. Ross County 1-4 Dundee Utd.
70:30 Keith Watson takes the free kick.
69:44 Melvin De Leeuw concedes a free kick for a foul on Nadir Ciftci.
69:25 Substitution (Ross County) makes a substitution, with Scott Boyd coming on for Grant Munro.
68:14 Substitution Ryan Dow comes on in place of Stuart Armstrong.
67:50 Corner taken by Graham Carey from the left by-line.
67:16 Orhan Mustafi heads at goal. Radoslaw Cierzniak turns it away with a finger tip save.
67:07 The ball is delivered by Richard Brittain.
66:40 Stuart Armstrong takes the chance to get an effort at goal.
64:56 Ryan Gauld provided the assist for the goal.
64:56 GOAL - Nadir Ciftci:Ross County 0 - 4 Dundee Utd Nadir Ciftci scores with a left foot finish. Ross County 0-4 Dundee Utd.
62:50 Ivan Sproule delivers the ball.
61:41 Grant Munro takes the free kick.
61:35 Nadir Ciftci is ruled offside.
61:26 Radoslaw Cierzniak restarts play with the free kick.
60:38 The assistant referee flags for offside against Kevin Luckassen.
60:38 The official flags Kevin Luckassen offside.
59:54 Free kick taken by Mark Brown.
59:50 The offside flag is raised against Stuart Armstrong.
59:24 Corner taken by Ryan Gauld.
59:01 Substitution Melvin De Leeuw on for Ben Gordon.
58:55 Substitution Mihael Kovacevic leaves the field to be replaced by Orhan Mustafi.
58:02 Gary Mackay-Steven has an effort at goal. A parry by Mark Brown prevents the goal.
57:09 Grant Munro takes the free kick.
57:03 Free kick awarded for a foul by Gary Mackay-Steven on Ben Gordon.
56:23 Grant Munro makes a clearance.
56:13 Corner from the left by-line taken by Stuart Armstrong.
55:47 Nadir Ciftci takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Fine finger tip save by Mark Brown.
54:34 Richard Brittain takes the free kick.
54:29 Foul by Gary Mackay-Steven on Richard Brittain, free kick awarded.
53:40 Mark Brown restarts play with the free kick.
53:28 The referee blows for offside.
53:06 Rocco Quinn has an effort at goal.
52:39 Free kick taken by Grant Munro.
52:33 The offside flag is raised against Stuart Armstrong.
51:15 Ryan Gauld takes a shot and went wide right of the net.
48:13 Nadir Ciftci has an effort at goal.
46:54 Mark Brown takes the free kick.
46:44 The offside flag is raised against Gary Mackay-Steven.
46:01 Header at goal by Grant Munro.
45:51 Corner taken by Graham Carey from the right by-line.
45:01 The referee blows the whistle to start the second half.
45:00+1:19 The ref blows to signal half-time.
45:00+1:18 Sean Dillon makes a clearance.
45:00+1:12 Richard Brittain crosses the ball in from the free kick.
45:00+0:47 Andrew Robertson concedes a free kick for a foul on Stuart Kettlewell.
45:00+0:16 The ball is sent over by Andrew Robertson.
44:30 Clearance by Rocco Quinn.
44:23 Corner from the left by-line taken by Ryan Gauld.
43:24 Header by Stuart Kettlewell strikes the woodwork.
43:16 Centre by Ben Gordon.
42:56 Free kick taken by Grant Munro.
42:52 The referee blows for offside.
42:17 Ryan Gauld takes a shot.
41:51 Centre by Mihael Kovacevic.
41:25 Graham Carey crosses the ball.
41:03 Corner from the right by-line taken by Graham Carey.
39:54 Assist on the goal came from Stuart Armstrong.
39:54 GOAL - Ryan Gauld:Ross County 0 - 3 Dundee Utd Ryan Gauld grabs a goal with a left foot finish. Ross County 0-3 Dundee Utd.
39:15 Kevin Luckassen takes a brilliant shot and went wide of the right hand upright.
38:56 John Souttar manages to make a clearance.
38:46 Ben Gordon produces a cross.
38:00 Shot by Andrew Robertson missed to the left of the net.
37:18 John Souttar takes the free kick.
36:57 Ben Gordon challenges Gary Mackay-Steven unfairly and gives away a free kick.
35:55 Corner taken by Graham Carey from the right by-line.
35:20 Corner taken by Graham Carey from the right by-line.
34:42 Shot from Graham Carey from the free kick that hits the post.
33:49 John Rankin concedes a free kick for a foul on Richard Brittain.
33:15 Corner taken by Graham Carey.
32:37 Richard Brittain has a headed effort at goal.
32:29 Richard Brittain takes the free kick.
32:06 Grant Munro fouled by Keith Watson, the ref awards a free kick.
29:45 Keith Watson manages to make a clearance.
29:40 Free kick taken by Richard Brittain.
29:32 Stuart Kettlewell fouled by Paul Paton, the ref awards a free kick.
27:37 Ryan Gauld takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Mark Brown catches the ball.
27:03 The referee shows Richard Brittain a yellow card for dissent.
23:21 Stuart Armstrong gets a header at goal. Mark Brown catches the ball.
23:11 The ball is crossed by Keith Watson.
22:46 John Souttar takes the free kick.
22:26 Ben Gordon challenges Gary Mackay-Steven unfairly and gives away a free kick.
21:30 Corner taken by Stuart Armstrong.
19:27 GOAL - Stuart Armstrong:Ross County 0 - 2 Dundee Utd Stuart Armstrong scores with a header. Ross County 0-2 Dundee Utd.
19:22 Keith Watson sends in a cross.
17:32 GOAL - Gary Mackay-Steven:Ross County 0 - 1 Dundee Utd Penalty taken left-footed by Gary Mackay-Steven and scored. Ross County 0-1 Dundee Utd.
16:58 Mark Brown gives away a Penalty for an unfair challenge on Gary Mackay-Steven.
16:27 Mark Brown takes the free kick.
16:01 The referee blows for offside.
14:55 Shot by Nadir Ciftci cleared the net.
14:17 Clearance by Stuart Kettlewell.
14:12 Paul Paton takes the free kick.
14:01 Foul by Rocco Quinn on Paul Paton, free kick awarded.
8:49 Graham Carey sends in a cross.
7:33 Rocco Quinn takes a shot.
5:05 Free kick crossed by Richard Brittain.
4:53 Free kick awarded for a foul by Keith Watson on Graham Carey.
4:32 Corner taken by Ryan Gauld from the right by-line.
4:07 Brian McLean makes a clearance.
4:01 Corner taken by Ryan Gauld from the right by-line.
3:33 A cross is delivered by Ryan Gauld.
3:23 Corner taken by Ryan Gauld.
2:49 Nadir Ciftci produces a shot on goal direct from the free kick. Fine finger tip save by Mark Brown.
2:15 Ryan Gauld fouled by Stuart Kettlewell, the ref awards a free kick.
0:32 Shot by Graham Carey went wide of the left-hand upright.
0:00 The match has kicked off.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
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