Dundee Utd 2-2 Hibernian

By Keir MurrayBBC Sport Scotland

Johnny Russell's late penalty earned Dundee United a point against Hibernian but the visitors will feel aggrieved because Ryan McGivern's trip on Gary Mackay-Steven was outside the box.

A clearance by Hibs keeper Ben Williams cannoned off John Rankin for a bizarre United opener in six minutes.

James McPake headed home Leigh Griffiths' cross as Hibs pulled level.

And a superb strike by Griffiths looked to have won the match for Pat Fenlon's side before the late controversy.

That late penalty prevented Hibs from joining third-placed Motherwell and fourth-placed St Johnstone on 40 points in the Scottish Premier League.

Instead, they are in sixth place, one point above their Tannadice hosts.

Johnny Russell celebrates his 86th minute penalty
Johnny Russell celebrates tucking away an 86th-minute penalty

United took the lead in ridiculous circumstances. Former Hibs midfielder Rankin chased down a perfectly reasonable pass-back by Jorge Claros to Williams and benefited from the Hibs keeper taking a touch before attempting a clearance with his right boot.

However, rather than launching the ball into the United half, Williams smashed the ball off the advancing Rankin and watched aghast as it flew by him into the net for Rankin's second goal of the season.

The visitors refused to panic at the early setback and Paul Cairney's stiff shot in 14 minutes was blocked by Cierzniak, who was well-positioned in the United goal.

Pressure from the tangerine-shirted midfielders forced the otherwise impressive Claros to make a slack pass and as a swift counter-attack reached its climax the home fans would have expected more from Mackay-Steven than a wayward shot across goal.

Hibernian deservedly drew level midway through the first half when Griffiths' inch-perfect free-kick from the left was flicked past Cierzniak by the head of Easter Road skipper McPake.

And Griffiths threatened to get on the scoresheet himself twice before half time. His dipping shot from 22 yards landed on the roof of the net and his fierce angled drive was touched on to the junction of post and bar by Cierzniak.

After the interval, a superb challenge by McGivern thwarted Keith Watson in the Hibs box as the home fans screamed for a penalty.

But those same supporters were left speechless when Hibs moved ahead thanks to a sublime strike by Griffiths.

The Hibs talisman picked up the ball in his own half, hared down the left with the ball under his control and then hammered it past Cierzniak from 25 yards.

Stuart Armstrong, Russell and Mackay-Steven probed the Hibs defence for gaps, but it was Keith Watson who came closest to a goal when he headed a Barry Douglas free-kick just over the bar after an hour.

Two minutes later he made a great saving challenge on Cairney to prevent a two-goal deficit.

Williams tipped an Armstrong header over the bar and the Hibs goalie was a relieved figure when Rankin's cracking cross from the left was headed over from six yards by United captain Jon Daly.

With four minutes remaining, the home side benefited from a mistake by referee Alan Muir, who awarded United a penalty for McGivern's trip on the speeding Mackay-Steven despite the contact happening just outside the box.

Russell's finish from 12 yards, his 20th goal of the season, was clinical and these two evenly-matched sides had to settle for a point apiece.