Sheffield United took the Sky Bet Championship lead with a 2-0 professional win at Hull.
Oli McBurnie had gone 43 games without scoring until he struck at Luton last month, but his third goal in as many appearances put the visitors in control after 20 minutes.
Sander Berge then added a second with 15 minutes left after jumping on a loose marking inside the right channel of the penalty area.
Berge’s strike might have been lucky enough to deflect defender Jacob Greaves, but it was reward enough for a man-of-the-match performance.
The Blades are now unbeaten in the league since day one of the season and have been, despite a few scares along the way, good value for three points against scrappy hosts.
Hull made plenty of eye-catching signings during the transfer window, with optimism high among supporters that they now have a team capable of fighting for the play-offs.
But, in the end, they paid the price for a slow start in front of a large crowd at MKM Stadium – and never issued a sustained challenge to threaten their well-drilled Yorkshire rivals.
Indeed, Hull should have been 1-0 down after 18 minutes when Oliver Norwood’s cross to the right was deftly picked up by George Baldock.
McBurnie, however, was caught off guard and unresponsive to what should have been a routine half-volley from close range.
The Scotland international made amends two minutes later – although Hull keeper Matt Ingram was hopelessly at fault for Sheffield United’s opener.
McBurnie was allowed by Alfie Jones to squirm into shooting position towards the left corner of the 18-yard box. His shot was on target, but Ingram somehow allowed the ball to rub under his body at his near post.
Just when United looked set to pull away after that deserved opener, Hull created their best chance of the game after 27 minutes.
Callum Elder did well to break up a spirited counterattack, from which his clearance found Oscar Estupinan alone inside the center circle. Estupinan drove inside the Blades penalty area but looked jaded as he shot Wes Foderingham, who reacted well to the initial effort before doing even better on the Portuguese follow-up.
Any momentum Hull had hoped to build after the restart was quickly subdued by a combination of wayward passing and neat possession-based football from Paul Heckingbottom’s side.
Shota Arveladze’s men at least pulled themselves together as the second half progressed – notably once influential playmaker Jean Michael Seri returned from injury as a substitute.
But once Berge quieted the raucous home support with a second after 75 minutes, a routine away win was never in doubt.
What the managers said…
of the hull Shota Arveladze“That’s not a good statistic. [conceding the most goals in the division]. I can’t be positive about it, but we have to work on it. It’s part of football. You want to score more and concede less but we have to balance attack and defence. I think it was a good game. They are a very difficult team to face, but I think with his quality (from Ingram) he should save his first goal.
“I would say the moment we could have scored was at the end of the first half. The game was still even at that point and sometimes they also played the balls longer, but we didn’t create too much. in the second half. They scored another second at the right moment. The boys tried – it was a great home crowd and a good atmosphere. I can’t say too much about the attitude and the will of the players and about the way they trained before the game.”
SheffieldUnited Paul Heckingbottom: “We were strong without the ball. We talked about their threats on the counter-attack. Without the ball we were good, which is great – especially when we are away from home. The whole team, to destroy a team that creates chances, that’s good. We had to fight, work hard and press, but there were also great quality moments where we could and should have scored more goals.
“When the guys were warming up, there were allegations of racial abuse, which the boys heard and reported. It’s disappointing. We know there’s no room for that. I’m not talking quite a few Hull supporters, I’m talking about football in general, we’ll follow the process.
Hull City 0-2 Sheffield United: Oli McBurnie scores again as Blades return to top of Championship