Motherwell 0-1 Dundee Utd

Dundee United spoiled James McFadden's Motherwell return, with Johnny Russell scoring the only goal in a lively Scottish Premier League tussle.

A great run and pass from Gary Mackay-Steven set Russell up to slot home on 17 minutes at Fir Park.

Jackie McNamara's men were a real threat on the break, with the tricky Mackay-Steven menacing throughout.

The home side saw a lot of the ball but seldom threatened, with McFadden's introduction failing to inspire them.

The Scotland forward, who will be with the club for the rest of the season, came off the bench on 73 minutes but could not prevent Motherwell falling to their first home defeat of 2013.

United edge up one place to eighth and are now just two points worse off than Inverness in third place.

Stuart McCall's team did most of the early pressing, with Brian McLean hooking a clearance narrowly wide of his own goal, while Chris Humphrey and Nicky Law went close with shots.

But the home side were undone by a great Mackay-Steven burst as the midfielder slipped the ball through for Russell who showed excellent composure to fire the ball past keeper Darren Randolph.

Russell then seized on some slack defending by Steven Hammell to curl an effort just over from 20 yards.

Motherwell again began strongly after the re-start but it was United who would create the best chances, with the visitors spurning two opportunities to extend their lead within the space of a minute.

Mackay-Steven forced Randolph into a good stop with his feet and Jon Daly headed over the bar from the edge of the six-yard box.

Motherwell's Simon Ramsden called Radoslaw Cierzniak into action with a low shot on 70 minutes, but again it was United who almost profited on the break - Mackay-Steven twice bringing out superb stops from Randolph.

He then passed up a glorious chance when he failed to convert after the Republic of Ireland stopper denied Richie Ryan.

The Motherwell supporters roared in approval as McFadden made his first appearance since rejoining the club.

The introduction of the former Everton man sparked life into the home crowd and they were almost rewarded when Law floated a shot just over the crossbar.

Mackay-Steven had yet another chance to put the game out sight when he brilliantly controlled Stuart Armstrong's pass and this time beat Randolph, however Shaun Hutchinson made an excellent goal-line stop.