Jackie McNamara hails Dundee United resolve in semi-final win

Manager Jackie McNamara praised Dundee United's spirit as they came from behind against Aberdeen at Hampden to reach the League Cup final.

"It was a hard fought game and the three goals were not things of beauty," he told BBC Scotland after the 2-1 win.

"But the most important thing is that we're in the final.

"I thought we were the better team in the first half, we had some good chances. The second half wasn't pretty - it could have gone either way."

United came closest to scoring in a first half when a deflected shot from Stuart Armstrong struck the crossbar.

But they fell behind four minutes after the interval when Donervon Daniels marked his Dons debut with a headed goal.

Callum Morris levelled with a powerful header from a corner on the hour before Nadir Ciftci's deft nod seven minutes from time squirmed through goalkeeper Scott Brown's hands.

"It's a great feeling to be in another final," added McNamara, who lost out to St Johnstone in last season's Scottish Cup.

"Aberdeen scored, from our point of view, a very poor goal - it seemed to go in by slow motion. But I was delighted by the response."

Ryan Dow, a second half replacement for Charlie Telfer, was influential in that comeback as the game opened up at the national stadium.

"Ryan came on and gave us that bit of energy and drive in behind them," explained McNamara.

"It was tailor made for him with his pace. There was a lot of balls going over the midfield and I thought it was time to freshen things and look for that one in behind.

"He was disappointed not to be starting, along with others, but attitude-wise he was great and I'm delighted for him."

Nadir Ciftci scored the winning goal for Dundee United
Nadir Ciftci's performance up front earned high praise from manager Jackie McNamara

The manager was also pleased with match-winner Ciftci, who knocked in his 10th goal of the season.

"He was excellent," enthused McNamara. "I thought he handled everything today. He was strong and a constant threat.

"I said before the game that we needed our big players and he delivered for us."

McNamara expects to face former club Celtic in the final, with Rangers the underdogs for Sunday's semi-final.

But he thinks the condition of the Hampden pitch is not conducive to good football

"The pitch didn't help," he said. "It was a difficult surface.

"You could see it when the lads were breaking and trying to make a pass. It wasn't great.

"I think Celtic may be too strong for Rangers although the pitch could be a leveller. If Rangers were to win it would be a massive shock."

Celtic have agreed a pre-contract deal for Gary Mackay-Steven and have had a bid for Armstrong rejected.

Asked if the latter had played his last game for the club, McNamara replied: "At the moment there's nothing to be said.

"I want to see him playing in the final with GMS but that's nothing to do with me. I'll be glad when the window closes."