Russell backs Mackay-Steven to fire

Dundee United striker Johnny Russell has backed team-mate Gary Mackay-Steven to push the Dinamo Moscow defence to their limit in the Europa League third qualifying second leg in Russia.

Mackay-Steven, 21, stole the show with his buccaneering display as the two sides drew 2-2 in the first leg at Tannadice last Thursday. The former Airdrie winger was also named man-of-the-match in United's opening Scottish Premier League fixture against Hibernian on Sunday.

Now Russell, who scored the opening goal in the 3-0 win over Hibs, believes the highly-rated Scotland Under-21 international can prove the difference once more. "'Gaz' can give anyone a torrid time," he said.

"Even before the first leg when he was outstanding, I fancied him to do that. When he is on his game he is pretty much unplayable. He can do inside then outside, get round defenders and is so strong.

"Gary is a great player and is a tremendous asset to Dundee United - Dinamo would be silly not to double up on him because if you give him space he's going to hurt you. Every team is going to give him extra attention but he'll rise to the challenge."

Russell is determined to progress to the next qualifying round of the tournament and believes Dinamo paid the price for not fully respecting United's ability last week.

"The fact we were under-estimated spurred us on. There were a few comments too and I believe foreign teams are disrespectful that way," he said. "They came into the tie not thinking they were going to get the kind of game.

"They believe the foreign teams work hard and that's it but we have a lot of great technical players in Scotland. The way we played was an eye-opener for them but after putting so much effort into the first leg their late equaliser was a body blow.

"However, the way we kicked on against Hibs speaks volumes for the lads and we reckon we can win in Moscow. We want to push ourselves to the next stage. All that's missing is getting through to that next round."

Thursday night's return leg in Russia comes on the back of crowd disturbances between the two sets of fans at Tannadice last week and the resignation of manager Sergei Silkin, who has been replaced on a temporary basis by former youth coach Dmitri Khokhlov.