NADIR Ciftci came off the bench to fire Dundee United into the Scottish League Cup third round as he scored twice and set up another to see off Dumbarton.
Scorers: Dumbarton - Smith 34, Megginson 87; Dundee United - Ciftci 69, 89, Gauld 77
Referee: A Muir
With United trailing to Kevin Smith’s first-half strike, Ciftci shot home the equaliser in the 69th minute before setting up Ryan Gauld to put the visitors in front. Mitch Megginson scored a wonderful late equaliser, but Ciftci soon hit an 89th-minute winner.
United, wearing Arsenal-style away strips, named a strong team and lined up in a 3-4-1-2 formation with Gauld tasked with providing Brian Graham and David Goodwillie ahead of him. United created numerous chances in the opening 15 minutes and Goodwillie should have opened the scoring but sent a free header wide from Mark Wilson’s cross.
Graham had a hopeful handball appeal rejected when he lashed the ball into Aaron Barry from close range and then had a volley saved by Jamie Ewings following Andrew Robertson’s cross. Robertson sliced wide after being set up by Gauld and, after Bryan Prunty had glanced a header wide at the other end, Graham then headed straight at Ewings.
United could not maintain their early pressure but looked to be in little danger themselves until the 33rd minute.
Dumbarton right-back Paul McGinn sent a ball into Smith from the halfway line and the forward turned John Souttar and shot past the onrushing Radoslaw Cierzniak with the United defender only helping the ball into the net as he tried to atone for his error.
United almost levelled instantly when Gauld hit a swerving 30-yard effort that hit the bar.
United hit the frame of the goal again ten minutes after the break when Paul Paton’s shot deflected off Barry and hit the post.
Jackie McNamara moved to a 4-4-2 when Ciftci replaced Wilson in the 63rd minute and the change paid off six minutes later. Ciftci chested the ball inside Scott Smith after the Sons’ left-back misjudged Paton’s diagonal ball and the winger volleyed home inside the near post.
Ciftci moved up front when Chris Erskine replaced Goodwillie and he set up the second moments later when he used his pace and strength to get round Barry and make the bye-line before cutting it across goal. Gauld’s first effort was blocked but he had time to take a touch before rifling the rebound into the net from close range.
United sat back and Megginson made them pay with four minutes left of normal time. There appeared little danger when the former Aberdeen forward collected the ball just inside the left edge of the box but he curled into the far top corner.
The parity lasted two minutes as both United subs combined to win the tie. Erskine cut inside from the right wing and played a reverse pass to Ciftci, who fired home from ten yards.
“I’m delighted for Nadir, I thought he was excellent,” said McNamara of his match-winner. “He is a fantastic talent, I think everyone can see that.”
Dumbarton: Ewings, McGinn, Graham, Barry, Scott Smith, Fleming, Turner, Hugh Murray, McDougall, Kevin Smith, Prunty. Subs: Nish, Grindlay, Megginson, Horne, McKerracher.
Dundee United: Cierzniak, Souttar, Dillon, Butcher, Wilson, Paton, Gauld, Robertson, Rankin, Graham, Goodwillie. Subs: Millar, Gardyne, Erskine, Ciftci, McCallum.