Russell was both a hero and a villain as he scored a brace and saw red
Dundee United Take The Points In The First Dundee Derby In Seven YearsThe orange side of Dundee, Dundee United "hosted" their neighborhood rivals for the Dundee Derby this afternoon in the Scottish Premier League. That atmosphere rivaled the intensity of the fans at the Old Firm (the Glasgow derby notorious for its passionate fans) with the sounds of the home side, Dundee United, blasting throughout the city, surely causing a rumble when the home side struck their three goals to give them a victory in the Dundee Derby, which hasn't happened in a competitive competition in seven years.
The first half opened promisingly for the visiting Dundee team. With three minutes gone the home fans were given a scare when Dundee forced a fantastic save from the Dundee United goalkeeper. With some incredible athleticism and a but of luck, Cierzniak managed to keep the ball out of the back of the United net. The blue side from Dundee was dominant in the opening minutes. After almost securing themselves a goal, they passed the ball around their orange neighbors, nearly creating a few more chances for themselves. They were not able to find a good rhythm, however, and United were soon able to open up and game and begin to turn it in their favor. United struck after just thirteen minutes. Dundee's keeper came out to attempt to collect a lofting free kick from just outside the area, but he misjudged his jump and the ball went well over his hand and right to the awaiting head of Gavin Gunning who kept his composure and put the ball in the back of the net. Much to the delight of the mass of orange-attired home fans, United had the 1-0 lead. Dundee began to collapse on themselves as United picked up the pace and the pressure. Both sides pressured the ball hard, but United were more successful in getting rid of the ball quickly to an awaiting teammate and their movement off of the ball was more effective. Gunning tried to play his part in the attack from the back, but lucky for Dundee his long balls often failed to pick out one of his own forwards.
By the twentieth minute, frustration was starting to mount from Dundee as they struggled to gain possession of the ball. Tackles began flying in classic derby style but the referee kept good control of the game. United had a good chance in the 25th minute when they caught Dundee on the attack, creating a 3v2 in their favor. The cross was cut back across the box and Rankin the man awaiting the pass, was forced to improvise, doing so in impressive style with a scorpion kick that nearly made it on frame. His effort was greeted as if it were a goal. United continued to dominate while Dundee struggled to get the ball into their attacking third. While Dundee's defense crumbled, United's stood strong and when their neighbors broke past their defensive wall, Ciezniak was there to clean up any messes.
United's attacking player Russell struck his goals almost back to back in the 34th and 37th minutes. His first goal was celebrated in acrobatic style, his second goal spoke for itself. His first strike was a little lucky, bouncing off of the leg of a Dundee defender before curling towards goal and banking off of the post on its way into the net. His second goal was a screamer, nearly taking the net off of the posts as he slammed it in from just outside the eighteen yard box. His stunning second goal was greeted with an incredible roar from the home fans who were enjoying their dominant streak and a deathly silence and stillness from the visiting fans behind the goal. Dundee manager Barry Smith had his hands full at halftime as he led his men down the tunnel to the locker rooms below the singing stadium.
United showed no signs of mercy in the second half, forcing corner kicks and some early saves from Douglas in the Dundee goal. They gradually took their feet off of the gas pedal as the pace of the game slowed and escalated to a more scrappy style of play from both sides. Tackles continued to come in hard and in the 70th minute, both parties decided enough was enough. Goalscorer Johnny Russell came in hard and a tad late on Dundee's number four Stephen O'Donnell, sparking a scuffle in the middle of the pitch. O'Donnell was rightfully mad, but his retaliation both to the tackle and to the confrontation from one of Russell's United teammates earned him a spot in the referee's book and one on the bench as he sits out a red card ban. Russell was also sent off for his challenge, which was a bookable tackle without a doubt, but the red card was debatable; more of a control mechanism for referee Calum Murray. Both sides finished out the match with ten men, neither of them final to find the back of the net. For United, it would have been just one more goal for them to rub into the open wounds of their neighbors and for Dundee, it would have been some consolation for an all-around miserable afternoon at the hands of their orange-clad city rivals.
United are now at the top of the table despite having a game in hand against Celtic. Dundee have just one point in the league so far and the entire Scottish Premier League table separates them from their hated rivals as they sit in the number twelve place at the rock bottom of the division.