Scottish Premiership - Play-off Semi-Final - 1st Leg
Dundee Utd2Falkirk2

Dundee United 2-2 Falkirk

Simon Murray scores
Simon Murray got Dundee United's opener - his third goal in three games

Dundee United and Falkirk shared four brilliant goals in an enthralling Premiership play-off semi-final first leg at Tannadice.

Simon Murray drove his 17th goal of the season to put United ahead.

The Bairns regained their composure and Joe McKee crossed for James Craigen to perfectly time a scissor-kick finish.

Blair Spittal restored the Tangerines' lead but Falkirk equalised again when McKee found the top corner with a wonderful 30-yard free-kick.

The sides will meet again at the Falkirk Stadium on Friday and the eventual winner will face Hamilton Academical or Inverness Caledonian Thistle - whichever side finishes second bottom in the top flight - in the final.

Both sides experienced spells of dominance, with Falkirk edging it before the break.

Bairns boss Peter Houston - who led United to Scottish Cup glory almost seven years ago to the day - did have to watch his former employers take the lead, though.

Tangerines forward Thomas Mikkelsen got the better of Luca Gasparotto to flick on Cammy Bell's long kick and Murray raced on to the ball and rifled it confidently across goal into the far left corner.

The Dundee-born striker has been prolific for his home city club in these play-offs - that being his third goal in as many games after netting in both legs of the quarter-final against Greenock Morton.

Falkirk celebrate
Craigen (right) got Falkirk's first equaliser

But the visitors responded. Craigen was primed and ready to make the most of McKee's delicious delivery, connecting acrobatically to send the ball into Bell's net.

Craigen, Lee Miller and Nathan Austin all went close for the Bairns before half-time, yet it was the home side who nudged themselves in front again at the start of the second period.

Like Murray, who turned creator, Spittal netted to make it three goals for him in the three play-off matches. The former Queen's Park midfielder produced an accurate, if unexpected, low finish into the far corner from the right edge of the box.

The game would swing again, however, and it was another strike of tremendous quality for both the Falkirk fans and Houston on the touchline to enjoy.

Most thought McKee would send his set piece from wide on the left into the box, but the former Morton man hammered the ball into the top left corner past a despairing Bell.

Miller's replacement John Baird thought he had added a third for the Bairns with a really nicely directed header from Craigen's cross, but referee Bobby Madden disallowed after the flag was raised by his assistant.

And, in stoppage time, Bairns goalkeeper Robbie Thomson clawed away Mikkelsen's looping header to ensure it ended all square.

Post-match reaction

Dundee United manager Ray McKinnon: "I enjoyed the game. It was an interesting game.

"They've come out and given everything, they've taken the lead twice, there's a desire to win the game so I'm very pleased and the game's still sitting in the balance going into Friday.

"We can certainly go down there and win and we'll go down there with a really positive mentality and we can't wait for the game.

"We'd obviously have liked to have taken a win down there, an advantage. I'm sure it'll be an open game."

Falkirk manager Peter Houston: "It was a terrific game. Both teams had a go. We showed great character. We changed our system and the system worked for us.

"I thought for 10 minutes of the first half, we lost it but I think the rest of the game, we more or less dominated.

"We look forward to Friday night. We know it's going to be a difficult game - winner take all - but we're more than confident that we can make the final of the play-off again.

"What we have to cut out is silly goals."

Line-ups

Dundee Utd

  • 1Bell
  • 8MurdochSubstituted forDillonat 8'minutes
  • 4DurnanBooked at 36mins
  • 14Edjenguele
  • 24RobsonSubstituted forDixonat 80'minutes
  • 17KuateSubstituted forTelferat 64'minutes
  • 16Flood
  • 7Spittal
  • 19Andreu
  • 9Murray
  • 18Mikkelsen

Substitutes

  • 2Dillon
  • 3Dixon
  • 10Fraser
  • 11Nicholls
  • 12Telfer
  • 21Zwick
  • 35Allardice

Falkirk

  • 24Thomson
  • 4Muirhead
  • 15Gasparotto
  • 14Grant
  • 3Leahy
  • 28Craigen
  • 6McKee
  • 8Kerr
  • 10SibbaldBooked at 69minsSubstituted forTaiwoat 75'minutes
  • 16AustinSubstituted forMcHughat 80'minutes
  • 18MillerSubstituted forBairdat 64'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Rogers
  • 7Taiwo
  • 9Baird
  • 11Hippolyte
  • 19McHugh
  • 33Aird
  • 44Watson
Referee:
Bobby Madden
Attendance:
7,034

Match Stats

Home TeamDundee UtdAway TeamFalkirk
Possession
Home49%
Away51%
Shots
Home12
Away11
Shots on Target
Home7
Away7
Corners
Home3
Away7
Fouls
Home10
Away7

Live Text

Match ends, Dundee United 2, Falkirk 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Dundee United 2, Falkirk 2.

Corner, Falkirk. Conceded by Willo Flood.

Attempt blocked. Aaron Muirhead (Falkirk) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Attempt saved. Thomas Mikkelsen (Dundee United) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner.

Attempt missed. Thomas Mikkelsen (Dundee United) header from the centre of the box misses to the left.

Foul by Thomas Mikkelsen (Dundee United).

Aaron Muirhead (Falkirk) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Mark Durnan (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by John Baird (Falkirk).

Substitution

Substitution, Dundee United. Paul Dixon replaces Jamie Robson.

Substitution

Substitution, Falkirk. Robert McHugh replaces Nathan Austin.

Substitution

Substitution, Falkirk. Tom Taiwo replaces Craig Sibbald.

Attempt saved. John Baird (Falkirk) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Nathan Austin (Falkirk) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by William Edjenguele (Dundee United).

Booking

Craig Sibbald (Falkirk) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

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

Foul by Craig Sibbald (Falkirk).

Attempt saved. Charlie Telfer (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Attempt missed. Tony Andreu (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

Blair Spittal (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Craig Sibbald (Falkirk).

Substitution

Substitution, Falkirk. John Baird replaces Lee Miller.

Substitution

Substitution, Dundee United. Charlie Telfer replaces Wato Kuate.

Goal!

Goal! Dundee United 2, Falkirk 2. Joe McKee (Falkirk) from a free kick with a right footed shot to the top left corner.

Foul by Mark Durnan (Dundee United).

Nathan Austin (Falkirk) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Aaron Muirhead.

Attempt blocked. William Edjenguele (Dundee United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Peter Grant.

Willo Flood (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by James Craigen (Falkirk).

Goal!

Goal! Dundee United 2, Falkirk 1. Blair Spittal (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Simon Murray.

Corner, Falkirk. Conceded by Jamie Robson.

Foul by Willo Flood (Dundee United).

Lee Miller (Falkirk) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Willo Flood (Dundee United) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Corner, Falkirk. Conceded by Wato Kuate.

Corner, Falkirk. Conceded by Willo Flood.

goal

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