ILMARI NISKANEN was thrilled as Dundee United secured European football next season courtesy of Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw with Celtic – and the winger believes his team’s performance against the Scottish champions shows they can mix it with their continental opponents.

A fantastic Dylan Levitt strike in the second half cancelled out Giorgos Giakoumakis’ header as the two sides settled for a share of the spoils but Thomas Courts’ men could consider themselves unfortunate, given they twice hit the woodwork at Tannadice.

The result confirmed United’s participation in the Europa Conference League next season – the first time the Tayside club have qualified for Europe in a decade – and Niskanen can’t wait to get going.

“It’s a brilliant feeling,” the Finn said. “That has been our goal for the whole season and now it has been secured it feels brilliant.

“But there’s still a really important game on Saturday [against Ross County]. We want to win and finish fourth.

“Celtic, of course, is a brilliant team and we knew it was going to be a tough challenge. The boys gave absolutely everything and it was a beautiful goal by Dylan.

“A draw was definitely an okay result against an opponent like this.

“We can definitely be proud. Celtic is a brilliant team but we were also able to create chances.

“I also had a brilliant chance when Tony Watt’s header came off the post. But I couldn’t quite put the ball in the net and in fairness it was also very well defended by Ralston.

“But a draw was definitely an okay result.”

Now that European football has been secured, Niskanen is setting his sights even higher for the new campaign.

Dundee United haven’t won a major trophy since they lifted the Scottish Cup in 2010 and the winger sees no reason why his side can’t challenge for silverware next year.

“Yes, definitely [that’s the goal],” he added. “As I’ve said, there is room for improvement for us.

“There were really difficult spells during the season.

“If we are able to keep the good form next season – while we also have good individuals – then I don’t see why we can’t aim higher.

“That is what we’ll look to do.”