ABEL HERNANDEZ netted the first hat-trick of Steve Bruce’s Hull City reign as Charlton Athletic suffered another miserable visit to Yorkshire.
Just four days after conceding five goals at Huddersfield Town, the Addicks were again put to the sword by the rampant Tigers.
Hernandez led the way with a first half-hat-trick, the first by a Hull players since Matty Fryatt managed the same feat against Barnsley in 2012.
Further strikes came from Robert Snodgrass and Mohamed Diame on an afternoon when City produced what was akin to a ‘goal of the match’ competition, such were the impressive nature of the Yorkshire side’s finishing.
Snodgrass probably just about claimed that ‘award’, but Diame and Hernandez did manage goals of their own that will live long in the memory.
Adding to Hull’s sense of satisfaction at the final whistle was news that nearest rivals Derby County had lost at home to Birmingham City and Middlesbrough had been beaten at the death by Bristol City, meaning Steve Bruce’s men are four points clear in second place.
As for Charlton, wretched defending and lacklustre play meant the Londoners’ tally of goals conceded in Yorkshire inside four days stretched into double figures.
Having been subjected to a thumping at Huddersfield in their last outing, Charlton - with Jose Riga at the helm for a second time following his appointment in midweek - needed a steady start to help build shattered confidence levels.
They got the exact opposite, as Hull took just 16 minutes to open up a two goal advantage.
Hernandez was responsible for both strikes, the first owing everything to the Uruguayan’s tenacity as he harried Rhys Williams off the ball before racing clear to beat Stephen Henderson with aplomb.
That opener came on nine minutes and Hernandez’s second was even more impressive, the striker taking advantage of the visiting defence backing off to curl an exquisite shot beyond Henderson.
His hat-trick almost followed three minutes later, Henderson doing brilliantly to beat away the striker’s volleyed effort from a Mo Diame cross.
The club’s top scorer may have been denied a third goal - temporarily, as it turned out - but Hull couldn’t be, Robert Snodgrass producing another fine finish to leave Henderson well beaten on 33 minutes.
By now, the game was as good as over as a contest but Hernandez made sure with his hat-trick goal on 39 minutes.
A lovely exchange of passes between Andrew Robertson and Clucas created the opening and Hernandez tapped in from close range.
Twelve minutes after the restart, Hull made it 5-0 and, again, it was a stunning finish.
Neat play by Robertson and Snodgrass created the opening for Mo Diame, whose half volley flew beyond Henderson and into the corner of the net.
The Charlton goalkeeper prevented a sixth moments later when he finger-tipped Sam Clucas’s flicked header just beyond the post.
Henderson, though, could do nothing about a deflected shot from Isaac Hayden nine minutes from time.
Charlton offered very little in attack, one of very few efforts being a Williams header just wide from a corner ten minutes before the interval.
It meant another miserable trip to the Broad Acres for the loyal Addicks fans, who had been promised a refund by their team in the wake of the Huddersfield hiding. The least Riga’s shell-shocked players can do is offer a repeat after this debacle.
Hull boss Steve Bruce said: “I’ve got a squad which is very good and playing for each other. We’ve got a long way to go but at the moment we’re playing very well.
“Some of the goals we scored and some of the football we played meant Charlton found it very difficult against us.
“Every team has a bit of a dip. It’s very unlikely that any team goes and storms the league.
“We’ve played very well of late so let’s hope that continues. Our home form has been rock solid.”