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Dundee 3-2 Inverness CT

Dundee celebrate winning the Alba Challenge Cup
The Dundee players celebrate at McDiarmid Park

By Andy Campbell

Dundee came back from two goals down to win the Alba Challenge Cup with victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Dani Sanchez struck the Dundee crossbar shortly before Adam Rooney headed the Highlanders into a 20th minute lead.

Nauris Bulvitis grabbed Inverness' second before half-time but scored an own goal early in the second period to give Dundee a route back into the game.

Gary Harkins equalised with a close-range strike and then set up Craig Forsyth to grab a late winner.

It was the Dens Park club's first Challenge Cup triumph since first winning the tournament in 1990.

Dundee put Inverness under some early pressure when Forsyth's inswinging corner found the on-rushing Eddie Malone at the back post but the full-back could not make a clean connection and nudged the ball wide.

The Highlanders responded with an opening of their own and should have taken the lead when Jonathan Hayes ran on to Grant Munro's long ball and crossed to the far post, where the stretching Richie Foran fired just wide.

Sean Higgins' diving header was deflected wide by Munro before, at the other end, Sanchez blasted against the crossbar after connecting with Rooney's cutback.

But Inverness did not have to wait much longer for the opening goal as Hayes jinked away from Forsyth and crossed for Rooney to nod into the net.

Dundee midfielder Craig Forsyth
Matchwinner Forsyth's father played in the first Challenge Cup Final

Inverness had the ball in the net again when Bulvitis back-heeled a loose ball into the net but goalkeeper Rab Douglas had been fouled earlier in the play.

But Bulvitis did double the lead 12 minutes before half-time when Hayes' corner caused uncertainty in the Dundee defence and Munro crossed back into the six-yard box for the Latvian to flick the ball home.

Harkins had an opportunity to pull a goal back for Dundee when Esson flapped at a cross but the midfielder could not find the target as he shot through a ruck of players.

Inverness' slick passing was finding more and more gaps in the Dundee rearguard and Rooney drew a save from Douglas after being played in on goal by Sanchez.

Dundee clawed their way back into the match four minutes after the break when Hart's cross towards Higgins was inadvertently headed past Esson by Bulvitis.

And Jocky Scott's side levelled in the 52nd minute as Esson tamely palmed Forsyth's cross into the path of Harkins, who took full advantage.

Leigh Griffiths latched onto a long ball and tried to round Esson but the goalkeeper did enough to usher the striker away from goal.

But Dundee completed a remarkable comeback with seven minutes remaining as Harkins drove his way to the by-line and cut back for Forsyth to side-foot home.

Inverness' misery was complete in injury time as Dougie Imrie was sent off for a reckless lunge on Dundee's Pat Clarke.

Dundee manager Jocky Scott:
"Unfortunately we didn't take part in the first half. We allowed them far too much room and we allowed them to get two goals ahead.

"But great character from the players and it was a great performance in the second half. In the first half we didn't pass the ball and we didn't take care with out possession whereas in the second half we did and what a difference it makes to us.

"They were great goals - well worked, good passing and good finishes.

"When we have an urgency in our play and pass the ball, we are a good team."

Inverness manager Terry Butcher:
"We knew that they would come out at us in the second half, which they did and fair play to Dundee because they've got some wonderful strikers.

"At 2-0 up, we were bitterly disappointed not to be further ahead because we hit the bar and we had other opportunities. We knew that 2-0 is a funny lead in football.

"We had a tremendous first-half, some of the football was fantastic.

"When it got to 2-2, the next goal really was going to win it and Dundee got it."

Dundee: Douglas, Paton (Benedictus 73), Malone, Kerr, MacKenzie, Lauchlan, Forsyth, Hart, Griffiths (Clarke 90), Higgins (McMenamin 65), Harkins.
Subs Not Used: Cameron, Soutar.

Booked: Lauchlan, Kerr.

Goals: Bulvitis 48 og, Harkins 53, Forsyth 83.

Inverness CT: Esson, Tokely, Bulvitis, Munro, Golabek, Proctor, Sanchez (Cox 57), Duncan (Imrie 89), Foran, Rooney (Odhiambo 89), Hayes.
Subs Not Used: Stratford, Allison.

Sent Off: Imrie (90). Booked: Bulvitis, Hayes.

Goals: Rooney 20, Bulvitis 33.

Att: 8,031

Ref: C Richmond

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