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EXCLUSIVE: Why Aziz Behich didn’t watch Dundee United’s nerve-shredding penalty against Hibs as Aussie ace relishes Jim Goodwin ‘havoc’

Behich hopes United's dramatic win over Hibs can be a stepping stone to Premiership survival

Aziz Behich in action for Dundee United
Aziz Behich's Dundee United future is in doubt. Image: SNS

Aziz Behich insists the Tannadice roar told him that Jamie McGrath had converted his nerve-shredding spot-kick against Hibs — because the Dundee United star NEVER watches penalties.

The Australia international ordinarily locks eyes with his compatriot, Tangerines keeper Mark Birighitti, to learn whether United have been successful from 12 yards.

But even Birighitti couldn’t bear to look as McGrath stepped up in the 90th minute.

Thankfully for all those of a United persuasion, the Irishman was the coolest man in Tayside, sending David Marshall the wrong way and reinvigorating the Terrors’ survival bid.

“Honestly, I didn’t watch it — I don’t watch penalties so I had to ask Jamie (McGrath) which side he went after the game,” laughed Behich. “I’ve always just watched my own keeper. It’s a superstitious thing.

“So this season, I’ve kept my eye on Birraz (Mark Birighitti) and when I see him celebrate I know it’s safe to turn around.

“But on Sunday, he was facing the other way, too, and I’m thinking, “oh no”.

“So I just listened to the crowd and it was brilliant to hear the roar when it went in.”

Behich lauded: “Jamie is great at pens. He has a great record, even before coming to Dundee United, and he’s confident in what he does.

“You see it every day in training and to have someone like him, with that coolness in those moments — with all that on the line — is brilliant.”

Wing wizard

Behich turned in a magnificent display for United on Sunday.

Deployed as a left winger, he teed up Steven Fletcher’s opening goal and created three more more passable opportunities that were spurned.

Behich whipped in nine deliveries during the fixture and tormented Chris Cadden with his direct running. “Like a 5’1 Ryan Giggs”, to quote out-on-loan Tony Watt.

Behich gave Cadden a torrid time. Image: SNS

“The gaffer told me that he wanted me to play higher up the pitch and I’ll always put my hand up to play anywhere on the pitch,” continued the former PSV Eindhoven and Bursaspor flyer. “I’m an attack-minded full-back anyway.

“On Sunday, the boys did well to get me on the ball and let me play to my strengths; get one vs one against the full-back.

“That worked out well and I was able to get the assist for Fletch. I was really determined to run at the defence and make sure they had a hard time of it.”

He added: “We are getting numbers into the box now and causing a bit of havoc for the other teams, forcing them to defend.

“The gaffer (Jim Goodwin) has been really big on that since coming in — not putting all the weight on Fletch’s shoulders to create chances — and things will eventually fall for us.”


The victory — a first since defeating St Johnstone on January 2 — moved United to within two points of Ross County and three behind Kilmarnock.

However, the manner of the triumph, achieved in such breathless, dramatic fashion, could be an even bigger boost to morale and belief. A bumper away following is already expected in Motherwell on Saturday.

Behich and United boss Goodwin. Image: SNS

“That can be a turning point,” continued Behich. “I’ve said before that I think we’ve been playing good football, especially since the new gaffer has come in. You can see the confidence is still in this group.”

A trip to face the in-form Steelmen is up next before the pre-split fixture list concludes with the visit of Livingston.

Behich added: “Sunday was a stepping stone. It’s just the start. We can’t get ahead of ourselves. There are still a lot of games to be played — but we want to use this as a big leap forward.”