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Football: IT'S GREG ON YOUR FACE; PREMIER LEAGUE Red-faced Dons sunk by Cameron double.

Byline: EWAN SMITH at Pittodrie

ABERDEEN 2

DUNDEE UTD 4

GREG CAMERON struck twice in an incredible six-goal thriller as United delivered a blow to Aberdeen's Euro hopes.

Cameron netted in 15 and 50 minutes as United finally got a grip on what was a pulsating Pittodrie clash to leave Aberdeen just three points clear of Hearts in the race for third spot.

Earlier strikes from team-mates Jon Daly and Noel Hunt and Dons stars Steve Lovell and Darren Mackie had made this one of the most entertaining games in the SPL this year.

And the win, just three weeks after United's 4-0 away success at Hearts, proves that the Arabs could well be a force to be reckoned with under Craig Levein next season.

The thriller harked back to days gone by when clashes between the New Firm were edge-of-your-seat stuff as the northeast sides battled it out to be best in Scotland.

And there was a real sense of anticipation before kick-off yesterday.

For Aberdeen it was a chance to further cement their claim for a UEFA Cup spot and move within two points of second-placed Rangers ahead of the Ibrox side's visit to Paisley.

United? It was time to put the markers down for next season.

Levein, named manager of the month last week for March, set out his stall to attack with Collin Samuel, Noel Hunt and Jon Daly up front in an adventurous-looking 4-3-3 formation.

Dons boss Jimmy Calderwood had pace and invention down his flanks with Chris Clark and Richard Foster and a hugely experienced attack pair of Steve Lovell and Craig Brewster.

But no-one could have predicted this game's blistering start with an amazing five goals, including two penalties, inside 15 minutes.

The first came almost straight from kick-off as United were awarded one of the fastest ever penalty kicks - after 24 SECONDS.

It takes some bottle for a referee to award a spot-kick so early but to give it to an away side is almost an act of defiance.

But whistler Mike Tumilty had no option as Michael Hart took down jet-heeled Samuel inside the box just as the Trinidad ace was about to square the ball to allow Hunt or Daly to have a go.

Daly kept his cool to convert the penalty and kick off a goal feast for the lucky Pittodrie punters.

Dons took just five minutes to reply as Scott Severin's 30-yard free-kick took a nick off Lovell on its way to deceiving Derek Stillie.

Two minutes later Dons were ahead after Mark Kerr brought down Richard Foster to force Tumilty into his second penalty award of the afternoon.

Mackie put this one just out of Stillie's reach and Aberdeen's Euro dream was on track again - well at least for five minutes.

United's equaliser, after 12 minutes, came through top scorer Hunt who calmly headed home a Sean Dillon free-kick before making an ill-advised beeline to the Aberdeen fans.

Incredibly the action didn't end there as Dundee United regained the lead in 15 minutes.

This time Hunt turned provider, flicking on a Christian Kalvenes cross for Cameron to smash the ball in off the bar from 15 yards.

Aberdeen weren't out of this though, and before the break Stillie was forced to parry a close range Mackie header for a corner.

With more than a hint of irony the Aberdeen PA announcer informed the 12,148 crowd at half-time that there wasn't a single other goal to be had at the other four SPL games.

And as the sides emerged for the second half the question on everyone's lips was over whether they could keep up the pulsating pace.

The answer was a firm yes.

Neither manager was about to stifle what was turning into one of the games of the season.

Dons were first to try their luck in the second half as Stillie fumbled a Mackie chip in front of sub Chris Maguire only for Kalvenes to boot the ball to safety.

Then, in 50 minutes, United made it 4-2 as Hunt powered a low strike off the inside of the post for Cameron to follow up and fire the ball into the net from 10 yards.

Daly then latched on to a Samuel flick on to fire a volley straight at Aberdeen keeper Jamie Langfield.

And Brewster's clever one-two with Lovell ended with the former United manager blasting a shot against Stillie's legs.

STATS

ABERDEEN FOOTBALL CLUB

SHOTS ON 6

SHOTS OFF 3

OFFSIDE 3

FOULS 12

CORNERS 5

BOOKINGS 2

DUNDEE UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB

SHOTS ON 5

SHOTS OFF 1

OFFSIDE 3

FOULS 18

CORNERS 2

BOOKINGS 3

REFWATCH

MIKE TUMILTY was a brave man to award Dundee United a penalty after only 24 SECONDS but the whistler got that call 100% correct. Tumilty was put on the spot again and once more was right to level up the penalty count after Mark Kerr's foul on Aberdeen's Richard Foster. Rating: 8/10.

Supporting the 23rd Man

CAPTION(S):

Double trouble: Greg Cameron celebrates with strike pal Noel Hunt after sealing United's victory; Seconds out: Super-cool Jon Daly keeps calm to slot home United's 24th-second penalty award and start a goal glut at Pittodrie; Mackie my day: Darren converts from the spot to give Aberdeen a short-lived lead in yesterday's pulsating clash at Pittodrie
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 8, 2007
Words:889
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