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How Dundee United beat Rangers: The Opta stats show grit, Jamie Robson’s starring role and heroic Charlie Mulgrew

Charlie Mulgrew (left) and Jamie Robson stood out for Dundee United in their 1-0 win over Rangers.

The dust has settled on Dundee United’s famous win over Rangers – but just how did the Terrors down the seemingly-indomitable champions?

The Gers were 40 Premiership games unbeaten headed into Saturday’s contest at Tannadice but, finally, came a cropper in the league thanks to Jamie Robson’s pandemonium-inducing strike.

The 4,500 returning Arabs in attendance went wild as the left-back’s second-half goal sent the Light Blues back to Glasgow empty-handed and secured the Tangerines’ first league win over their fierce rivals since 2012.

It was a magnificent team performance from United – with a few reasons, in particular, why Tam Courts’ men were able to earn such a historic result.

The graft and craft of midfield men

The Tangerines’ central-midfield three of Calum Butcher, Ian Harkes and Jeando Fuchs were all-action in helping them see off Steven Gerrard’s side.

Although clear to see for everyone watching on, the stats show just how combative and destructive they were in the middle of the park – where 45.2% of the game was fought.

Though they surrendered 67.6% of possession to Rangers, as a team, United won 54.8% of duels, coming out on top 57-47 over their Glasgow foe.

Jeando Fuchs (No 66) and Calum Butcher (18) provided an effective shield for Dundee United’s back four, while Ian Harkes (23) got up in support of Nicky Clark (10) (Source: Opta).

Cameroon international Fuchs led the way with four tackles and three interceptions, but the contributions of captain Butcher – two tackles and two interceptions – and Harkes – a tackle and three interceptions – were vital, too.

Diminutive Fuchs won all but one of his aerial duels (3/4) as he and Butcher camped inside their own half to shield the back four.

They showed craft to go with their graft, though, with American No 23 Harkes getting closest to Nicky Clark – linking eight times with the lone hitman – and playing two key passes in the contest.

Rampaging and robust Robson

Goalscorer Robson led the way for United and was the man they looked to at both ends of the pitch – touching the ball 70 times, 23 more than next-best Fuchs.

In the second half, when the game was finely poised between being won and lost for United, the majority of the play went down the academy graduate’s left flank.

Adrian Sporle, when introduced on 50 minutes, assisted him ably with seven good passes and a 75% success rate in duels, but Robson’s rampaging and robust running, ultimately, told for the Tangerines.

51.4% of Dundee United’s attacks went down Jamie Robson and Adrian Sporle’s left flank in the second half against Rangers (Source: Opta).

At the defensive end, the left-back won the ball back a game-high 13 times, made four clearances, three interceptions and two huge tackles.

Robson also won the vast majority of his aerial duels (71.4%) and led the match with 17 duels in total.

In the final third, Robson was an effective and consistent outlet – making 20 passes in the opposition half – and, of course, he bagged the all-important winner on 64 minutes.

Sweeper Mulgrew heroic last line of defence

Given his club Man-of-the-Match award, it would be wrong to call veteran defender Charlie Mulgrew the unsung hero of the piece.

However, the 35-year-old centre-half did the work that does often go unnoticed.

The former Celtic man was the last line of defence for the Terrors, operating as a Franz Beckenbauer-style sweeper.

Charlie Mulgrew was all-action in his own box playing the role of sweeper – touching the ball 11 times in the area (Source: Opta).

He barely got out of his own half but was in the right positions when it counted, finding himself on the ball 11 times inside his own area, largely in and around the six-yard box.

Mulgrew sat a yard or two behind the rest of the defence to make nine clearances and two vital and heroic blocks to make a telling contribution to what was a glorious day for United.

Dundee United: 3 things we learned from the Terrors’ historic win over Rangers