It was a night of firsts as United thumped Melbourne City 4-1 at Coopers Stadium.
Tarek Elrich will long be remembered for his incredible solo run after receiving the ball 70 metres away from goal.
Dodging the challenges of four defenders, the left-back ace then calmly slotted the ball past goalkeeper Tando Velaphi inside five metres.
It would be the standout moment for United, who have struggled with form against Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney in previous encounters.
With Nigel Boogard, James Jeggo, Marcelo Carrusca and Awer Mabil all ruled out of the match, United’s depth was prime for testing against City.
And it was rare starter Miguel Palanca who opened the scoring with his first goal for the club in the 19th minute.
A through-ball by Pablo Sanchez found Palanca at a difficult angle on the left side of the box, his finish suggesting no such pressure.
Sanchez rocketed home another goal four minutes later, after Sergio Cirio’s attempt on target was beaten by Velaphi into the path of the Spaniard.
The goal was Sanchez’s eighth for the season, equalling his season best tally when playing for Spanish second division side Recreativo Huelva in 2011/2012.
The theme of ‘firsts’ continued in the second half, as Cameron Watson slotted home a penalty goal to make it 4-0.
The spot-kick was ordered after Craig Goodwin was tripped in the box, allowing Watson to take home his first A-league goal.
City would later pull a goal back thanks to Socceroo capped Aaron Mooy, who was given a penalty after a foul from Bruce Kamau.
United and City would both finish the game with ten players, after Kew Jaliens and Michael Marrone were both given harshly judged red cards.
Jaliens committed a last man tackle in the 66th minute, whilst Marrone was late on a challenge three minutes later.
United CEO Michael Petrillo later tweeted to Marrone, “Definitely not a red card offence.
“Hope to see some common sense applied.”
This will mean Marrone will miss the first game of the finals, but the team will welcome the return of Boogard after suspension.
United will be confident in its youth system, with substitute debutants Ben Warland and Dylan Smith providing speed and agility.
United will either face City or the Roar at home next week in the finals, with the FFA tipped to play the fixture at the Adelaide Oval.
Speaking of the decision to NewsCorp, coach Josep Gombau said a finals fixture at Coopers Stadium is preferred amongst the AUFC team.
“We are training here, we play at home and we have this advantage.”
If Melbourne Victory overcome Central Coast they will be premiers, whilst Sydney beating Wellington away would mean United will retain third.
Written by Daniel Kuberek @kuubeey