Hull City 3 Burnley 0: Hernandez hits Tigers high

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ON an afternoon when Abel Hernandez became the first Hull City player to reach double figures in Steve Bruce’s three-and-a-half year reign, Burnley’s Indian sign over the East Yorkshire club was left in tatters.

Before today, the Clarets had won nine of their last ten meetings with the Tigers - a run that included four meetings in the Premier League.

The last of those had come on May 9 and played a major part in City losing their top flight status.

After this win, however, Hull must fancy their chances of winning an instant return after reaching the halfway stage on 44 points.

Jake Livermore put the hosts in front early in the second half with an exquisite volley before Hernandez doubled that advantage with an equally impressive finish.

In the process, City’s club record £10m signing took his tally to ten goals for the campaign - the first player to reach double figures since Bruce’s arrival in the summer of 2012. Sam Clucas then rounded off the scoring in stoppage time.

A major criticism of City in recent weeks has been a tendency to start slowly, often leaving themselves with too much to do in the second half of games.

Against the Clarets, Bruce’s men were clearly keen to reverse that recent trend by making the early running.

Twice in the opening 20 minutes, Clarets goalkeeper Tom Heaton was called into action to save his side.

First, Heaton had to get down smartly to his right to keep out a stinging drive from Mohamed Diame after the Senegal international had latched on to a knock-down from Ahmed Elmohamady.

Diame caused the second save, too, with a curled effort that was close enough to Heaton to make his stop routine.

Heaton also had to be very alert on the half-hour to paw away a bullet header from Harry Maguire after the former Sheffield United defender had risen highest to meet a Sam Clucas corner.

Burnley had a couple of chances late in the first half, as Joey Barton fired a fierce shot straight at Allan McGregor and then George Boyd did the same from 30 yards.

City’s Scottish goalkeeper was again on hand to cut out a Matthew Lowton cross early in the second half before the hosts went ahead on 57 minutes.

Neat play on the left by Sam Clucas created sufficient space for the former Chesterfield man to pick out Livermore with an exquisite cross.

Livermore then did the rest with an equally smart volleyed finish that gave Heaton no chance in the Clarets’ goal.

Burnley should have been level just after the hour but Andre Gray. a major target for the Tigers last summer, blazed wide from eight yards out following a poor clearance by Harry Maguire.

It proved a big miss as, on 65 minutes, Hernandez doubled City’s advantage with another fine finish, the £10m club record signing collecting a Diame pass before cutting inside Ben Mee and firing beyond Heaton.

Rouwen Hennings did fire narrowly side for Burnley 15 minutes from time but, in truth, City were comfortable and a third goal arrived in stoppage time courtesy of Clucas as Bruce’s men moved up a place to third in the table.