Dundee United come from behind to stun Motherwell and move off foot of table
Dundee United moved off the foot of the cinch Premiership table after coming from behind to defeat Motherwell 2-1 at Fir Park.
Kevin van Veen’s first-half goal had the Steelmen ahead at half-time, but Jim Goodwin’s side struck twice in nine minutes through Ilmari Niskanen and Jamie McGrath’s penalty to claim victory.
United moved above Ross County and Kilmarnock to sit 10th in the table on goal difference, while Motherwell remain eighth.
The visitors enjoyed much the better start and it took a goalline clearance from Max Johnston to prevent Steven Fletcher’s header from finding the net.
Van Veen’s fizzing effort was diverted away for a corner and from the resulting set-piece Dan Casey should have done better after rising unmarked to meet Sean Goss’ delivery.
The opening goal arrived after 23 minutes, Motherwell’s top-scorer Van Veen bringing his tally for the season to 23 by tucking home the rebound after being denied by Mark Birighitti in the United goal.
It took a superb tackle from Calum Butcher to halt Ian Harkes’ driving run just before the break as the visitors looked for a response.
Blair Spittal had an effort that troubled Birighitti on the stroke of half-time before Van Veen failed to hit the target from close range.
Just after the restart Spittal’s shot was deflected over by Charlie Mulgrew and then Van Veen was denied by the offside flag after coolly bending the ball into the far corner.
Harkes almost levelled only to be denied by the legs of Liam Kelly and then Mulgrew nodded wide after finding himself in space inside the box.
It was Motherwell who continued to look the more likely, though, and Johnston blazed wide after a burst forward before Van Veen again tested the visiting keeper after latching on to a ball over the top.
Van Veen was in full flow and he came close to doubling the hosts’ advantage when he robbed Loick Ayina before rushing through on goal and unleashing an effort that was kept out by Birghitti.
A defensive lapse from Goss led to United’s leveller in the 63rd minute.
The Well midfielder was carelessly caught out and Harkes fed Niskanen, who dispatched the ball low beyond Kelly.
And with 19 minutes remaining United were awarded a penalty after Kelly was adjudged to have felled Fletcher and McGrath sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot.
Harry Paton saw his strike deflected to safety as Motherwell chased a late leveller and there were further opportunities for Paul McGinn and Butcher as the game approached its conclusion.
Fletcher hit the turf again in added time as he attempted to round Kelly, but this time he was adjudged to have taken a dive and was shown a yellow card.