Nathan Tella scored a hat-trick to maintain Burnley’s seemingly-relentless march towards the Premier League with a 3-1 Championship win at Hull.
Tella put the Clarets in front just before the break and the in-form youngster added a second just before the hour following good work from Ian Maatsen.
The on-loan Southampton signing then put the seal on a fabulous individual performance when he pounced upon wretched defending with his 17th league goal of the season.
Hull were spirited opponents, most notably in the first half.
But Vincent Kompany’s men – as has been their wont this season – broke the hosts’ collective spirit by keeping the football and giving nothing away at the back until Ozan Tufan scored an injury-time consolation.
Leaders Burnley now have 83 points, with just nine Championship games remaining, but they still had to work hard in East Yorkshire until the impressive Tella struck after 43 minutes.
He had no right to win Hjalmar Ekdal’s hopeful deep punt into the right channel, but Callum Elder badly misjudged the flight of the ball.
Tella was alert to the left-back’s error and – with Hull’s centre-backs far too high up the pitch – twisted and then struck the ball with a clean hit.
Kompany would not have been so happy with his lot at the break had Tella not scored as two possession-based sides had looked to have cancelled one another out.
Hull, even in spite of the scoreline, brought plenty to the table in the first half, but they never once challenged goalkeeper Arijanet Muric before the restart.
Burnley were hardly a rampant force going forward, either, but, from the outset, they possess that confidence of a top-of-the-table side.
They also have a serious talent in Tella, who scored a second after 59 minutes when Maasten, who was given far too much space, directed from the left a perfect cross.
Tella’s cushioned volley was even better, but this was a team goal – a point illustrated by Kompany’s celebrations on the sidelines.
With the game essentially over and despite the fact Burnley play Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday, the visitors continued to press hard in pursuit of another goal.
It arrived after 73 minutes, but it was a gift. For no apparent reason, Hull messed around with the ball at the back before substitute Jacob Greaves sluggishly misplaced a square pass across the face of goal.
Tella had anticipated the danger long before Greaves made a mess of things and seized upon the mistake before scoring in a tricky one-on-one situation with Karl Darlow.
Substitute Tufan thrashed home a Hull goal their efforts perhaps deserved with the last kick of the game, but Burnley and Tella were streets ahead when it mattered.