Calum Butcher scored twice as Dundee United ran over the top of Dundee in the first Dundee derby in two years with a resounding 6-2 win.
Championship leaders United stretched the gap between themselves and the Dark Blues to seven points, with the Tangerines five clear of closest challengers Inverness.
Butcher opened the scoring at a sold-out Tannadice with a header on 14 minutes after Danny Johnson saw his effort at the other end disallowed for offside.
Kane Hemmings gave Dundee hope on 22 minutes as he equalised before United went on the rampage, scoring three times in seven first-half minutes through Louis Appere, a Lawrence Shankland penalty and Butcher again.
Ian Harkes made it five with a 25-yard belter a minute into the second-half before Andrew Nelson pulled one back for the Dee with 20 minutes remaining.
Cammy Smith rubbed salt into the wounds with a sixth seven minutes from time to mirror the derby result of New Year’s Day 2015.
Dundee United welcomed back Mark Connolly to the defence with Harkes dropping to the bench and Butcher shifting into his preferred midfield slot. The Terrors’ other change saw Peter Pawlett handed his first start of the season in place of Nicky Clark.
For Dundee, 16-year-old Fin Robertson was a surprise omission having started the last seven games and was replaced in the starting XI by Jamie Ness, who captained James McPake’s side. Josh Todd also came in for Paul McGowan.
It was a typically frenetic and end-to-end start to the first league Dundee derby in over three years, with United winning a couple of corners after some early pressure.
However, it was Dundee who appeared to be the first to register on the scoresheet as it seemed they had taken the lead through Johnson.
The English striker picked up on a Ness through ball, touched on by Hemmings, and slotted coolly beyond an onrushing Benjamin Siegrist.
However, Hemmings’ involvement in the play meant Johnson’s effort was adjudged offside, ruled out and the scenes of wild celebration from Dee players and fans alike were cut short.
Moments later, Siegrist was called into action, this time saving a stinging Johnson drive before Declan McDaid fired over on nine minutes.
On 14 minutes, however, it was United who opened the scoring as Butcher looped a header over goalkeeper Jack Hamilton and Jordan Marshall on the Dundee goal line after Pawlett’s corner was nodded into his path by Connolly.
Just seven minutes later, though, the Dark Blues levelled. Ness’ free-kick delivery was met by Jordon Forster’s diving header which squirmed around in the box before Hemmings picked up the pieces to fire home on the turn.
Connolly’s involvement in the game ended on 25 minutes as he hobbled off, appearing to have pulled his hamstring, to be replaced by Harkes as Butcher dropped back to centre-half.
That change didn’t bother Robbie Neilson’s men, though, as a three-goal blast in seven minutes allowed them to pull away from the Dark Blues.
After another Pawlett delivery into the area, this time from a free-kick, the ball was nodded down by Shankland for young striker Appere to take the ball on his chest and fire a full volley in off the underside of the bar on 33 minutes. It was his first league goal for the Tannadice club.
The Terrors were given the chance to take a two-goal lead just two minutes later as McDaid brought down Paul McMullan with a late challenge in the box and referee Kevin Clancy pointed to the spot.
United’s star striker Shankland stepped up and stroked his penalty down the middle on 36 minutes for his eighth goal in four league games and to give the hosts a 3-1 lead.
The Terrors made it 4-1 five minutes before half-time as Butcher connected with a Pawlett corner, after Forster’s initial mistake to give the set-piece away, to guide a lovely glancing header in off Dundee’s left-hand post.
One minute into the second period Harkes sent the 10,000 Arabs in attendance wild as he rifled into the top corner from 25 yards, with the aid of a deflection from Forster, to make it five.
Substitute Andrew Nelson gave Dundee a glimmer of hope on 70 minutes as he connected with fellow-sub Paul McGowan’s delivery from the left to side foot home.
On 81 minutes, sub Cammy Smith could’ve made it 6-2 but his shot was stopped on the line by Cammy Kerr. However, two minutes later, Smith made no mistake, cutting in on his left after the pass from Appere to fire home with aid of a deflection and pile the misery on a dismal Dee.
Dundee United: Siegrist (GK); L Smith, Robson, Reynolds (C), Connolly (Harkes 25); Butcher, Stanton, McMullan, Pawlett (C Smith 66); Appere, Shankland (Clark 78).
Subs not used: Deniz (GK), Sow, King and Watson.
Dundee: Hamilton (GK); Kerr, Marshall, McGhee (Meekings 68), Forster; Byrne, Ness (C), McDaid, Todd (Nelson 60); Johnson (McGowan 49), Hemmings.
Subs not used: Ferrie (GK), Curran, McPake and Robertson.
Referee: Kevin Clancy.
Tele sports writer Calum Woodger shares his thoughts on the match ⬇️
There was real hope for Dundee after they started the game brightly and were unfortunate to see Danny Johnson’s effort ruled out for offside.
Even Calum Butcher’s opener for Dundee United didn’t knock the wind out of their sails and when Kane Hemmings levelled matters, it appeared we had a real game on our hands.
However, a combination of a disjointed defence and silly individual errors, ultimately, cost the Dark Blues as the Terrors ran riot towards the end of the first half, scoring three times in seven minutes to put the game out of sight.
Ian Harkes’ howitzer moments into the second half truly put the game to bed despite substitute Andrew Nelson’s consolation goal.
Cammy Smith’s late strike then only served to rub salt into derby defeat wounds that might take a while to heal for James McPake’s side.