Match ends, Motherwell 0, Dundee United 4.
Ryan Gauld scored twice as Dundee United produced a dominant performance to beat Motherwell at Fir Park.
The 17-year-old volleyed the visitors in front before Paul Paton quickly headed a second.
Nadir Ciftci and Gary Mackay-Steven also threatened as United continually stretched their hosts.
John Sutton and Keith Lasley had efforts for 'Well but strikes by Gauld and Andrew Robertson completed a fine day's work for Jackie McNamara's side.
The result shortens the gap between the two sides, with the Taysiders now just two points off 'Well.
And the performance of Gauld was especially timely, given the talented midfielder's first call-up to the Scotland Under-21 squad ahead of Thursday's European Championship qualifier against Georgia.
But it was not just Gauld who impressed in Lanarkshire, with the presence of Ciftci crucial to United's early breakthrough.
Gunnar Nielsen punched clear a cross under pressure from the striker and Gauld was waiting at the edge of the box to lash the ball in off the goalkeeper.
And, after a blocked effort by Ciftci ricocheted up into the air, Paton leapt to nod over the line from the six-yard line.
The visitors netted again in the first half but the offside flag cut short Robertson's celebrations after he had converted a sublime Gauld pass.
Motherwell took heart from that let-off and Sutton tested Radoslaw Cierzniak with a fierce low drive.
Still United looked capable of slicing open the Steelmen seemingly at will and Nielsen smothered at the feet of Mackay-Steven after the winger had burrowed his way through a series of challenges.
Ciftci was narrowly off target with two attempts as United looked to put the game to bed before half-time.
Motherwell sought to turn around their fortunes in the second half and a dipping Lasley volley dropped wide of Cierzniak's goal before Henri Anier could not get his shot away amid pressure from defenders.
But McNamara's men soon found their rhythm again and Robertson's deflected shot was touched on to the bar by Nielsen at full stretch.
And, after being played in by Ciftci's reverse pass, Gauld fired his second and soon took the acclaim of the visiting fans as he was replaced by Brian Graham.
Substitute David Goodwillie tested Nielsen before Robertson completed the scoring in injury time when his rasping shot from the left corner of the box flew into the far corner.
- 15CumminsBooked at 15minsSubstituted forMcFaddenat 45'minutes
- 18CarswellSubstituted forMurrayat 64'minutes
- 24AnierSubstituted forMooreat 67'minutesBooked at 89mins
- 19GauldSubstituted forGrahamat 67'minutes
- 21CiftciSubstituted forGomisat 80'minutes
- 10S ArmstrongSubstituted forGoodwillieat 71'minutes
- Steven McLean
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Motherwell 0, Dundee United 4.
Goal! Motherwell 0, Dundee United 4. Andrew Robertson (Dundee United) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by John Rankin.
Attempt missed. Brian Graham (Dundee United) header from the centre of the box misses to the left.
Craig Moore (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Craig Moore (Motherwell).
Mark Wilson (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Gunnar Nielsen.
Attempt saved. David Goodwillie (Dundee United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
Attempt missed. Craig Moore (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.
Attempt saved. Brian Graham (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt missed. Craig Moore (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.
Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Stephen McManus.
Substitution, Dundee United. Morgaro Gomis replaces Nadir Ciftci.
Brian Graham (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Zaine Francis-Angol (Motherwell).
Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by John Souttar.
Substitution, Dundee United. David Goodwillie replaces Stuart Armstrong.
Substitution, Dundee United. Brian Graham replaces Ryan Gauld.
Substitution, Motherwell. Craig Moore replaces Henri Anier.