HIBS went into this match itching to give their supporters something to smile about after a 2-1 derby defeat at home to Hearts.
United came closest to opening the scoring though, after just eight minutes, Alen Orman conceding a free-kick to the left of his own penalty area as he handled the ball in preventing Charlie Miller making further progress. David Winters whipped in the free-kick to find the towering Stephen Thompson rising at the back post.
He thought he had scored with a header back across goal but with Tony Caig rooted to the spot in the Hibs goal, the ball glanced off the keeper’s right-hand post and out of play.
Hibs were struggling to make much of an impression as they sought to get back on the winning trail following last week’s setback but all they had to offer in return was a Craig Brewster shot which never looked like threatening United goalkeeper Paul Gallacher.
However, against the run of play Bobby Williamson’s side almost snatched the lead after 20 minutes as an accurate kick-out from Caig found Ulises de la Cruz on the right.
He skipped past the challenge of David McCracken before delivering a tempting cross to the back post where Garry O’Connor rose to power in a tremendous header. But Gallacher showed why he was also in then Scotland boss Berti Vogts’ plans with a terrific save, pushing the ball high into the air.
A through ball from Freddy Arpinon caused problems for United as McCracken misjudged the ball, forcing his keeper to race from his area to confront De la Cruz before the South American could capitalise. In doing so Gallacher picked up a knock to his right leg and required a lengthy spell of treatment before continuing.
Jim Lauchlan was lucky to escape without a booking after knocking the ball away as Hibs prepared to take a quick free-kick against a short-handed United defence, Matthias Jack making his view clear as he went face-to-face with the Tayside defender.
After that shaky start Hibs had managed to get a better grip on the game but United went close in the 34th minute as Tassos Venetis got up to meet Stuart Duff’s header from the right.
But Caig, determined to use this opportunity – only his fifth start of the season – to lay claim to the No. 1 slot at Easter Road, threw himself high to his right to claw the ball away.
And Hibs made the most of that escape as they took the lead in spectacular style through Arpinon three minutes later. Jack was fouled but managed to lay the ball off to De la Cruz who looked up before picking out the French ace on the edge of the United penalty area.
From there Arpinon did the rest, firing a terrific right-foot volley past the bemused Gallacher and into the net for his first goal in a Hibs jersey.
Hibs doubled their advantage after 73 minutes in fortunate circumstances, after O’Connor’s shot was deflected past Gallagher from the edge of the box. The young Hibs striker played a one-two with Paco Luna and unleashed a shot that Jim Lauchlan tried a block and the ball spun off his leg and into the net.
Steven Thompson pulled one back on 77 minutes, but it was too late.