Zero back to hero for Aberdeen

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The Independent Football

Hicham Zerouali has returned from zero to hero in the eyes of the Aberdeen fans once more, with the decisive goal which sunk Dundee United at Pittodrie yesterday and maintain their climb up the Scottish Premier League.

The Moroccan striker was rebuked a few weeks ago for a dreadful day at St Johnstone, where he supplied the miss of the season and also fired a penalty wide. Yet, the cult hero known as Zero displayed stunning accuracy from a longer range to inscribe a 68th minute winner on a torrid contest.

The rivalry between two clubs, who accrued four title successes between them in six seasons from 1980 to 1985, was underlined with a hectic second half which erased a dreadful opening period.

Jim McIntyre put Dundee United in front in the 46th minute, peeling off to meet David McCracken's knockdown and firing his shot past David Preece.

However, Aberdeen replied within four minutes, as Eugene Dadi's rampaging run ended when Jamie McCunnie cut him down. The defender was sent off and Robbie Winters scored with the penalty against his old club.

Ill-feeling persisted against Dadi, though, and Jim Lauchlan earned a red card in 52 minutes for a headbutt on the Frenchman. Zerouali punished the under-manned visitors, gathering a short free kick on the edge of the box and curling in a right foot shot.

Bottom club St Johnstone failed in their quest for their first victory, but at least contributed a third successive draw to rescue a point after going behind to Livingston at McDiarmid Park.

Willie Falconer had given St Johnstone a lead after 16 minutes, when he rose at the back post to meet Tommy Lovenkrands' cross and send a looping header over the goalkeeper Javier Broto.

However, Livingston cancel that deficit out, when Francisco Quino finished off a fine move after David Bingham and David Fernandez combined for the Spaniard to score with his right foot form the edge of the box.

Bingham then put Livingston ahead on the half hour, meeting a sublime pass from Fernandez, and volleyed past goalkeeper Kevin Cuthbert on his debut.

However, Peter MacDonald, a recent signing from Rangers, scored his first goal for St Johnstone in 50 minutes to make it 2-2. Quino's day ended with a red card after a challenge on John Paul McBride.