Dundee United 2-2 Dynamo Moscow: United devastated by late equaliser
A MAGNIFICENT match at Tannadice last night saw Dundee United suffer injury-time heartache after conceding a late equaliser against their wealthy opponents. Alexander Kokorin’s deflected goal presents United with a huge task to overcome next week in Moscow.
Scorers: Dundee United - Flood (37), Watson (76); Dynamo Moscow - Semshov (50), Kokorin (90)
The home team gave a fine showing against strong European opposition but were undone by this cruel moment at the end. The narrow lead they had looked about to take to Russia following Keith Watson’s 75th minute strike may have proved too narrow in the final analysis, but it would have allowed United some reason to hope.
Nevertheless, this was a partial antidote to the ills visited on Scottish football in recent months. United had been buoyed by Willo Flood’s opener before half-time. This lead was cancelled out soon after the interval by Igor Semshov. United, however, responded and looked to have secured a slim advantage prior to the second leg. However, they again learned that ties can turn in a single instance.
United were under no illusion about the task facing them. A glance at the Russian side’s team-sheet was all that was needed to inform them of the resources at Dynamo’s disposal. Christian Noboa, who cost the club £8 million when he signed this year, was left on the bench. Unfortunately for United, £15m man Balazs Dzsudzsak did feature in the starting line-up. He immediately gave the home fans cause for concern by turning left-back Barry Douglas inside out with a neat flick, though the attack came to nothing.
It was a fast and furious opening but attention was soon diverted from the pitch as a commotion erupted between fans in what used to be known as the Fair Play enclosure.
Back on the field, United steadied themselves and were as good as Peter Houston’s word. While acknowledging that the primary objective was to a avoid conceding a goal, the United manager also issued a promise that his side would seek to attack their opponents.
Johnny Russell was presented with a chance after 16 minutes after good work from John Rankin, but he delayed his shot for too long. Suddenly, the opportunity had gone and United knew they could ill-afford to switch off. Kevin Kuranyi, the Dynamo captain, broke through but mis-kicked rather haplessly. The comical attempt broke the tension that had built up inside the stadium after the earlier crowd disturbances in the area reserved for the away support.
Dynamo could handle the mockery. They were, however, rocked back on their heels when United claimed the opening goal after 36 minutes. A back-heel from Gary Mackay-Steven allowed John Rankin to take aim at goal. His shot was deflected across the box by centre-half Gordon Schildenfeld, though only as far as Flood. He expertly picked his spot, striking the ball into the net off Anton Shunin’s far post. United might have been in an even more favourable situation had Jon Daly connected cleanly with a header from Flood’s cross just three minutes before half-time. The skipper’s effort was a rather weak one and bounced tamely past the post.
United reached half-time still in possession of this lead but there had to be some regret that the margin stood at only one goal. Importantly, they had avoided conceding a goal. This situation was not to last, sadly.
Five minutes after the interval, United struggled to clear their lines and Alezander Kokorin’s cross from the right placed them under pressure, although it was still a surprise to see Semshov stoop to score with a header on the edge of the six-yard box.
Now it was the home side’s turn to have to avoid being stung again as Dynamo sought to feast on the uneasiness which briefly coursed through the United ranks. Radoslaw Cierzniak was forced to save brilliantly from a Kuranyi header. Indeed, he alone kept United in the tie during this worrying moments at the start of the second-half.
United, however, held on, and began to ask questions again of the Russian side. Mackay-Steven looked the most talented of all the players, including those valued at multi-millions. As well as taking the set-piece, he won the corner from which United went ahead. It took some time for one of his team-mates to convert his cross. Watson was the player on the spot. His first effort was saved, his second effort blocked. After the defender’s third attempt the ball crossed the line. It looked like giving United a deserved win. Instead, Kokorin’s last-ditch effort evaded Cierzniak after striking Gavin Gunning’s shoulder, looping into the net in what was a devastating twist.
Dundee United: Cierzniak, Watson, Dillon, Gunning, Douglas, Flood, Ryan, Rankin, Mackay-Steven, Russell, Daly. Subs: Banks, McLean, Millar, Gardyne, Armstrong, Dow, Robertson.
Dynamo Moscow: Shunin, Wilkshire, Schildenfeld, Rykov, Lomic, Dzsudzsak, Yusupov, Semshov, Misimovic, Kokorin, Kuranyi. Subs: Frolov, Fernandez, Nyakhaychyk, Noboa, Bakkal, Sapeta, Panyukov.