LEON CLARKE was in four-midable form as Sheffield United moved back into the automatic promotion places in style.
The veteran striker netted all four goals as Hull City crashed to a third defeat inside a week, ten goals having been conceded in the process.
For an hour, the Tigers were firmly in this game but, eventually, class told as the Blades replaced Cardiff City in second place.
The result will do nothing to ease the pressure on Leonid Slutsky but, for Chris Wilder, it was further proof that his side has the quality to last the pace in the race for the Premier League.
Adding to Hull’s frustration was they had taken the lead just before the half-hour via a stunning strike. Collecting a pass from Fraizer Campbell, Kamil Grosicki used Seb Larsson’s decoy run to create sufficient space to thunder in a shot from 30 yards that beat Simon Moore easily.
Allan McGregor had twice denied the Blades in the early exchanges before the opener, keeping out Billy Sharp and Leon Clarke from close range.
The Scottish international then denied Clarke again before the veteran striker equalised eight minutes into the second half.
Cameron Carter-Vickers created the chance with a drilled cross that Clarke seized upon, nipping ahead of a static Fikayo Tomori to score.
The hosts continued to press and went ahead when Clarke, released by Mark Duffy, dinked a shot over McGregor with 14 minutes remaining.
Clarke completed his hat-trick six minutes later with a close range header after being picked out by Sharp.
The Blades forward wasn’t finished yet, adding a fourth two minutes from time to round off a stunning afternoon.
Sheffield United’s liking for a Yorkshire derby was again evident as they made it 15 games unbeaten against opposition from within the county.
It is a run that stretches back to 2014 and a League One defeat by Barnsley, and although Hull City were in this encounter for an hour there was no doubt the better side won.
As for the Tigers, this slump is taking on worrying proportions. Ten goals conceded inside a week means plenty of time will have to be spent on the training pitch during the international break to bring about an improvement.