Match ends, Kilmarnock 2, Dundee United 0.
- Dundee United lose six-game unbeaten run
- Kilmarnock win fourth straight home league game
- The Ayrshire side move into third place
- Dundee United remain top ahead of Hamilton
Two goals in three minutes gave Kilmarnock a deserved win that ended the six-game unbeaten run of Scottish Premiership leaders Dundee United.
The Ayrshire side had the better of the first half against lacklustre visitors, who started - and finished - the night two points clear of Hamilton.
But Kilmarnock had to wait until the 63rd minute for the opener, Alexei Eremenko setting up Tope Obadeyi.
That clever finish was followed by a more conventional Mark Connolly header.
United failed to threaten a comeback that would have extended their winning run over Kilmarnock, who move above Inverness and reigning champions Celtic into third spot, to six games.
Visiting manager Jackie McNamara had said this week that, while he hoped his side could provide a challenge at the top, it was too early to label them as potential title contenders.
His caution was justified as the Terrors struggled to come to terms with lively opponents looking much more comfortable on the artificial surface installed this summer.
Following his fine performance against Partick Thistle, Finnish playmaker Eremenko was the architect again as Kilmarnock whipped the ball around a rain-soaked pitch.
United struggled to cope and Josh Magennis forced one near-post save from Radoslaw Cierzniak, before the Polish goalkeeper palmed a downward header clear.
A volley from Eremenko flew wide and another by Obadeyi should have hit the target rather than flying over from eight yards.
It took United 25 minutes to threaten, when Nadir Ciftci headed wide, but they began to impress themselves in the exchanges that followed.
Stuart Armstong had an effort blocked by Craig Samson at point-blank range. And, although the United man appeared to come off worse as the two collided, it was the home goalkeeper who had to be replaced at half-time with a suspected fractured toe.
But before the half ended, the visitors had a lucky break when Magennis outmuscled Callum Morris to reach Eremenko's ball over the top and the forward's chip over the advancing Cierzniak bounced in front of the unguarded goal but kissed the top of the bar.
Kilmarnock faded after the restart but United were unable to test Conor Brennan, the Northern Ireland Under-21 goalkeeper making his debut from the bench after leaving Leicester City in the summer.
However, the home side burst back into life when Eremenko flipped the ball neatly over Jaroslaw Fojut's sliding challenge and curled a low cross into the path of Obadeyi, who nutmegged his marker before jabbing past Cierzniak.
It was Eremenko who also supplied the delivery for the second, Connolly holding off Fojut to head home the Finn's corner.
United substitute Gary Mackay-Steven sent one effort over while Chris Erskine had a shot beaten away by Brennan.
However, it was Kilmarnock who came closest to adding to the scoring with Robbie Muirhead's wicked drive being turned over by Cierzniak.
- 1SamsonSubstituted forBrennanat 45'minutes
- 2BarbourBooked at 43mins
- 6ConnollyBooked at 90mins
- 20EremenkoBooked at 69minsSubstituted forMuirheadat 80'minutes
- 10S ArmstrongSubstituted forMackay-Stevenat 64'minutesBooked at 90mins
- 7CiftciSubstituted forAdeyemoat 76'minutesBooked at 83mins
- Crawford Allan
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Kilmarnock 2, Dundee United 0.
Mark Connolly (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card.
Ryan Dow (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Mark Connolly (Kilmarnock).
Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Callum Morris.
Foul by Chris Chantler (Kilmarnock).
Chris Erskine (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Sammy Clingan (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United).
Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United) is shown the yellow card.
Tope Obadeyi (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Gary Mackay-Steven (Dundee United).
Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Radoslaw Cierzniak.
Attempt saved. Robbie Muirhead (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.
Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Jamie Hamill.
Attempt missed. Chris Johnston (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.
Ola Adeyemo (Dundee United) is shown the yellow card.
Mark Connolly (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Ola Adeyemo (Dundee United).