Dundee United blew nine-man Inverness away to storm into the Scottish Cup semi-finals.

Nadir Ciftci took advantage of comical defending to grab the first two, before Gavin Gunning fired home a penalty.

Greg Tansey was sent off before half-time when his studs caught the top of Paul Paton's foot.

Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong added further strikes, followed by a second red card for the hosts when Marley Watkins was also sent packing.

The Tangerines - last winners in 2010 - join Aberdeen and St Johnstone in Sunday evening's semi-final draw, and also erased memories of October's controversial Scottish League Cup defeat in the Highlands.

Inverness, meanwhile, have now conceded ten goals in their last two games, and need to re-find their form quickly with the League Cup final against Aberdeen just seven days away.

With the game crying out for inspiration after a dull opening, Dundee United produced it.

Nadir Ciftci (centre) celebrates Dundee United's second goal against Inverness with Gary Mackay-Steven (left) and Paul Paton (right).

Ciftci (centre) capitalised on poor Inverness defending to net two goals

John Rankin picked out Ciftci with a neat lob forward and, with Josh Meekings struggling to close him down, the Turk was able to nod the ball past Dean Brill and slot into the net.

It was great skill from the United striker, but Inverness had not defended the long ball well after David Raven gifted possession in midfield.

The goal sparked the game into life. Tansey flighted in a free-kick which Gary Warren was able to nod into the path of the ever-dangerous Billy McKay, but he headed over from close range.

If the opening goal had been defended poorly, United's second was a catalogue of errors.

Meekings' pass-back held up in the mud, but Brill looked like he had rushed out in time to deny Ciftci. However, the goalkeeper cannoned his clearance off the defender, allowing the United striker to latch onto the loose ball and knock it into the empty net.

Inverness full-back Graeme Shinnie had a shot saved before Keith Watson was denied from close range at the other end, but John Hughes' men kicked themselves in the foot again to all but hand the visitors a place in the last four before half-time.

Shinnie took the back of Gunning's legs inside the area, sending the centre-back sprawling in the box. The Irishman took the penalty himself, rocketing his shot down the middle.

The half-time whistle could not come quick for the hosts, but the misery continued as Tansey was given a straight red card by referee Willie Collum for his lunge at Paton.

If the Highlanders were to have any hope of keeping alive their cup dreams they simply had to score next, and Shinnie burst through the middle past Ryan Dow and Rankin before unleashing a swerving shot that Radoslaw Cierzniak did well to push away.

However, within four minutes of the second-half Dundee United had the game wrapped up. Armstrong picked out Mackay-Steven wide on the left wing, and the winger raced clear before firing the ball in off the far post.

United were now rampant. Watson picked out Armstrong in the middle and he directed his header beyond Brill to add a fifth.

The day continued to get worse for Inverness. Watkins saw red when he caught Paton with a late challenge. It was perhaps harsh on the home side, with Paton himself earlier given a reprieve for a similar challenge on McKay.

Substitute Brian Graham twice fired over in the latter stages but United could not add a sixth, as they booked a place in one of next month's semi-finals at Ibrox Stadium.

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (6)

Inverness Caledonian Thistle

  • 12 Brill
  • 02 Raven
  • 03 Shinnie
  • 04 Vincent
  • 05 Warren
  • 06 Meekings
  • 15 Watkins Dismissed
  • 16 Tansey Dismissed
  • 07 McKay (Christie - 87' )
  • 09 Foran (Polworth - 60' )
  • 10 Doran (Williams - 60' )

Substitutes

  • 01 Esson
  • 11 Ross
  • 14 Devine
  • 18 Tremarco
  • 19 Williams
  • 20 Polworth
  • 36 Christie

Dundee United

  • 01 Cierzniak
  • 12 Watson
  • 26 Robertson
  • 08 Rankin (Gomis - 59' )
  • 05 Gunning
  • 02 Dillon
  • 10 Armstrong
  • 06 Paton
  • 21 Ciftci Booked (Graham - 60' )
  • 18 Dow (El Alagui - 54' )
  • 11 Mackay-Steven Booked

Substitutes

  • 04 Butcher
  • 09 Graham
  • 16 Wilson
  • 20 Souttar
  • 25 McCallum
  • 27 Gomis
  • 29 El Alagui
Ref: William Collum
Att: 3,164

Match Stats

Shots

8 9

On target

2 6

Corners

2 3

Fouls

10 18

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Inverness CT 0, Dundee United 5.

90:00 +1:02 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Inverness CT 0, Dundee United 5.

90:00 +0:24

Liam Polworth (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

90:00 +0:24

Foul by Brian Graham (Dundee United).

89:12

Attempt missed. Brian Graham (Dundee United) left footed shot from the right side of the box is too high following a fast break.

88:47

James Vincent (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

88:47

Foul by Farid El Alagui (Dundee United).

86:40 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Inverness CT. Ryan Christie replaces Billy McKay.

84:51

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by David Raven.

81:09

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Gary Warren.

79:02

Attempt missed. David Raven (Inverness CT) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

78:47

Foul by Paul Paton (Dundee United).

78:47

Billy McKay (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

77:46

Foul by Sean Dillon (Dundee United).

77:46

Billy McKay (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

76:17

Attempt missed. Liam Polworth (Inverness CT) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

74:38

Foul by Farid El Alagui (Dundee United).

74:38

Josh Meekings (Inverness CT) wins a free kick on the left wing.

73:51 Booking

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

73:49

Foul by Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United).

73:49

Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT) wins a free kick on the right wing.

71:24 Dismissal

Dismissal Marley Watkins (Inverness CT) is shown the red card for a bad foul.

71:04

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

71:04

Foul by Marley Watkins (Inverness CT).

67:53

Foul by Farid El Alagui (Dundee United).

67:53

Gary Warren (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

65:13

Attempt missed. Billy McKay (Inverness CT) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

62:44

Farid El Alagui (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

62:44

Foul by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT).

59:56 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Inverness CT. Liam Polworth replaces Richie Foran.

59:43 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Inverness CT. Danny Williams replaces Aaron Doran.

59:15 Substitution

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

58:55 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Morgaro Gomis replaces John Rankin.

58:26

Attempt missed. Billy McKay (Inverness CT) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the left.

56:35 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Inverness CT 0, Dundee United 5. Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United) header from the centre of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Keith Watson following a fast break.

53:44 Substitution

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

52:44

Foul by James Vincent (Inverness CT).

52:44

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

51:07

Foul by Richie Foran (Inverness CT).

51:07

Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

48:55 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Inverness CT 0, Dundee United 4. Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Stuart Armstrong following a fast break.

48:05

Billy McKay (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

48:05

Foul by Sean Dillon (Dundee United).

46:49

Foul by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT).

46:49

Ryan Dow (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

45:33

Attempt saved. Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

45:00

Second Half begins Inverness CT 0, Dundee United 3.

45:00 +0:14 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Inverness CT 0, Dundee United 3.

44:43

Attempt missed. Aaron Doran (Inverness CT) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

43:35 Dismissal

Dismissal Greg Tansey (Inverness CT) is shown the red card for a bad foul.

43:15

Foul by Greg Tansey (Inverness CT).

43:15

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

41:31

Aaron Doran (Inverness CT) wins a free kick on the right wing.

41:31

Foul by Andrew Robertson (Dundee United).

35:49 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Inverness CT 0, Dundee United 3. Gavin Gunning (Dundee United) converts the penalty with a left footed shot to the high centre of the goal.

35:36

Penalty conceded by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT) after a foul in the penalty area.

35:36

Penalty Dundee United. Gavin Gunning draws a foul in the penalty area.

34:37

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

34:12

Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

34:12

Foul by Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United).

32:34

Richie Foran (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

32:34

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

30:15

Foul by Richie Foran (Inverness CT).

30:15

Radoslaw Cierzniak (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

29:22

Corner, Inverness CT. Conceded by Radoslaw Cierzniak.

29:06

Attempt saved. Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner.

27:29 Booking

Booking Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) is shown the yellow card.

27:22 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Inverness CT 0, Dundee United 2. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom right corner.

26:23

Corner, Inverness CT. Conceded by Keith Watson.

24:26

Marley Watkins (Inverness CT) wins a free kick on the left wing.

24:26

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

21:50

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Gary Warren.

21:00

Ryan Dow (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

20:57

Foul by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT).

20:34

Attempt missed. Billy McKay (Inverness CT) header from the right side of the six yard box is just a bit too high.

19:25

Richie Foran (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

19:25

Foul by Gavin Gunning (Dundee United).

19:03

James Vincent (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

19:03

Foul by Andrew Robertson (Dundee United).

18:13

Gary Warren (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

18:13

Foul by Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United).

16:01

Marley Watkins (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

16:01

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

15:11 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Inverness CT 0, Dundee United 1. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by John Rankin.

13:03

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

10:46

Aaron Doran (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

10:46

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

8:50

Foul by Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United).

8:50

Marley Watkins (Inverness CT) wins a free kick on the left wing.

5:32

Foul by Gary Warren (Inverness CT).

5:32

Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

3:11

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

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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