Former Dundee United star Scott Robertson came back to haunt his old club as he claimed a stunning equaliser to earn under-fire Hibs their first point of the season.
Pat Fenlon’s side had looked as if they were heading for a third straight SPFL defeat when Stuart Armstrong fired the Tannadice outfit into a first half lead but after Hibs midfielder Kevin Thomson and United defender Gavin Gunning were sent off after clashing midway through the second 45 minutes, the Easter Road side finally came alive.
Having seen his first shot charged down, Robertson persevered to lash the ball home, Hibs first goal of the season and one which sent the anxious home fans into raptures.
Fenlon made just one change to the side which lost to Hearts, Danny Handling replacing Owain Tudur Jones while Ryan McGivern was again on the bench despite having played the second 45 minutes at Tynecastle.
The opening 15 minutes were scrappy, the game littered with fouls and both sides seemingly incapable of stringing any more than a couple of passes together.
Hibs, understandably, appeared nervous although the threatened protest before kick-off hadn’t materialised and as the minutes ticked by United sensed their opponents vulnerability, Fraser Mullen not helping his task of curbing Gary Mackay-Steven by picking up an early booking for a clumsy challenge on the winger.
It was United who almost opened the scoring in the 18th minute, David Goodwillie cutting the ball back for Armstrong who was denied by a superbly timed block from Kevin Thomson.
Mullen’s yellow card had given Mackay-Steven licence to run at him and he did to effect before picking out John Rankin racing into the penalty area but the former Hibs midfielder ballooned the ball high over the bar.
Armstrong took full advantage of the second opening presented to him in the 29th minute. His first touch as he collected Calum Butcher’s ball over the top wasn’t great but he still had time enough to steer it beyond goalkeeper Ben Williams and into the far corner of the net for the 12th goal Hibs had conceded in just five matches.
Mullen’s game was up after just 38 minutes, the former Hearts defender replaced as he had been last weekend by McGivern, a chorus of boos ringing round Easter Road as Lewis Stevenson switched from left back to right although that appeared the only option available to Fenlon.
Hibs looked devoid of confidence, their game lacking any tempo or rythmn and it took them until time added on at the end of the first half to muster their first real effort on goal, a viciously struck shot from James Collins which was beaten away by United goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak.
United were content with their one goal lead rarely under threat, able to get bodies behind the ball as they realised their opponents lacked that little bit of creativity to prise open their defence.
Both sides found themselves down to ten men in the 64th minute, Hibs midfielder Thomson reacting angrily to Gunning’s challenge, accusing the United defender of following through in his clearance, an indicent which prompted a melee among the players before referee Crawford Allan pulled the pair aside and flashed the red card.
Hibs had been guilty of not delivering enough shots in Cierzniak’s direction but Liam Craig did so with a long-range effort which the goalkeeper comfortably pushed over.
Williams kept Hibs in the match as he stood tall to deny Ryan Dow after the united midfielder had been left one-on-one with him and Fenlon’s side grabbed that lifeline with a superb equaliser from Robertson.
The midfielder saw his first effort blocked but followed up to power a low shot beyond Cierzniak and into the far corner of the net - Hibs first goal of the season.
Hibs: Williams, Mullen (McGivern 38), Nelson, Hanlon, Stevenson, Handling, S Robertson, (Taiwo 84)Thomson, Craig, Collins, Vine (Stanton 78).
Substitutes not used: Murdoch, Tudur Jones, Taiwo, Forster, Caldwell.
Dundee United: Cierzniak, Dillon, Butcher, Gunning, A Robertson. Armstrong (Gauld 74), Paton, Rankin, Dow, Mackay-Steven (Erskine 83), Goodwillie (Graham 61).
Substitutes not used: McCallum, Soutar, Watson, Ciftci.
Referee: Crawford Allan.