Hibs added a ruthless streak to their already heady brew of youth and precocious talent, this victory their fifth in six matches under manager Tony Mowbray as they moved up to third in the SPL.
The result, Hibs’ third league win on the trot, took them into the European places and a point ahead of Aberdeen in third place.
More importantly to the near 5000-strong green-and-white army which descended upon Tannadice, the win put Hibs nine points in front of arch-rivals, Hearts. It was only when the home side were forced to start chasing the game that Hibs took control and could have ended up even more convincing winners had it not been for a couple of outstanding saves from goalkeeper Tony Bullock.
If Hibs thought it was going to be easy given United’s predicament – the home side having one just three SPL matches up until this game – they were given an early warning that they were mistaken.
Derek McInnes fed Jason Scotland, who cleverly turned away from Gary Caldwell before lashing a left-foot shot high into the net behind Simon Brown. United, however, had displayed a ineptitude in defence which reflected the fact that they were rooted to the foot of the table after this encounter.
Bullock and his defenders stood looking at each other as Alen Orman whipped in a cross. Derek Riordan didn’t, the Hibs striker diving in to head home his 12th goal of the season on 13 minutes.
There was little, however, the United defence could do to prevent Hibs taking the lead with a breathtaking move initiated by former United youngster Ian Murray, who charged out of defence before slipping the ball forward to Garry O’Connor. He immediately delivered it wide left to David Murphy, and a touch back to Riordan and a chip into the box saw Orman chest it down into the path of O’Connor, who lashed it home midway through the first half.
Hibs got their third goal of the afternoon on 58 minutes.
Jim McIntyre could easily have been a United hero, but instead was cast in the role of sinner as he put his head to an aimless cross from Dean Shiels, succeeding only in causing confusion in the heart of his defence and Orman took full advantage as he stooped to score.
Steven Whittaker’s tenacity led to Hibs’ fourth, the right-back dispossessing Barry Robson on the halfway line before winning a tackle with Alan Archibald to set youngster Sam Morrow on his way for his first goal for the Easter Road club.
Hibs: Brown, Whittaker, Murphy, Caldwell, Murray, Shiels, Rocastle, Orman, Glass, O’Connor, Riordan.