Dundee Utd 3-0 Inverness CT

By Colin MoffatBBC Scotland

Dundee United moved up to fourth in the Scottish Premier League with a slick win over Inverness at Tannadice.

John Rankin fizzed in a cracking strike and Scott Robertson added a header five minutes into the second half.

Inverness pressed hard to find a way back but lacked ideas and a cutting edge in the final third of the pitch.

And Johnny Russell sealed the points with a lovely solo goal, skipping round two challenges before finding the bottom corner with a smart finish.

United, who won just two of their first 12 games of the season, are now unbeaten in seven, while Caley Thistle remain 10th in the table.

From an early United corner, Gavin Gunning's attempted shot found Robertson and he headed over from six yards at the back post.

Inverness immediately carved out a response but when the ball landed at the feet of Shane Sutherland in the home penalty box the midfielder shot high and wide.

Both sides were in too much of a rush to get the ball forward, with defences mopping up lots of long balls and the midfield being bypassed.

But the breakthrough came in spectacular style on 15 minutes.

Rankin brushed aside the challenge of Richie Foran to bring down a ballooned clearance from goalkeeper Ryan Esson, took a few steps forward and blazed a swerving shot into the top corner of the net from 22 yards.

Inverness almost equalised instantly when Gregory Tade spun in the box and picked out Billy McKay.

The striker managed to poke a shot towards the corner but keeper Dusan Pernis raced from his goal to make a brave block with his legs.

Tade fired a long-range drive wide, with United duo Willo Flood and Rankin then trying their luck from a similar distance but failing to trouble Esson.

The Tangerines finished the first half strongly, with skipper Jon Daly diverting a long ball from Paul Dixon narrowly wide.

Soon after, Daly slipped a great pass to Russell on left edge of penalty box but the Scotland U21 forward's low, angled strike was kept out by the fingertips of a sprawling Esson.

United continued to have the upper hand after the interval and a second goal duly arrived, courtesy of some sloppy defending from Terry Butcher's men.

A long free kick from Flood was nodded into a central area by Daly and Robertson was left unmarked to stoop and find the bottom corner of the net with his head.

A sliding Nick Ross was inches away from connecting with a free kick at back post as Inverness sought a way back.

The visitors were fortunate not to concede a penalty when referee Alan Muir failed to spot Roman Golobart using an arm to block a header from Russell.

And a bad fumble from Esson presented Daly with an empty goal but the striker, under pressure from two defenders, hooked the ball over.

Inverness finally began to apply some concerted attacking pressure, with Sutherland shooting wide, Golobart squandering a good headed chance and McKay sending a curler over the crossbar.

Pernis then had to smother a 20-yard strike from Greg Tansey and keep out a toe-poke from substitute Claude Gnakpa at his near post.

The Highlander's inability to make their positive play count was punished when Russell cushioned a cross from Daly and jinked his way out of a tight situation to prod a shot beyond Esson.

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