Sam Clucas came back to haunt his former club as Stoke hammered Hull 5-1 in this one-sided relegation battle.
Clucas and fellow midfielder Nick Powell both bagged braces, with Tyrese Campbell also on the scoresheet as the triumphant Potters pulled further away from the bottom three with a dominant win.
And by extending their healthy unbeaten run to four matches, Stoke pushed the misfiring Tigers deeper into a relegation dogfight.
Leonardo Da Silva Lopes pulled a second half goal back for the visitors, but Powell made sure it was a five-star performance with a second goal four minutes from time.
Stoke boss Michael O’Neill made two changes to his side as Sam Vokes dropped to the substitute’s bench and Jordan Cousins was forced to miss out with an ankle injury.
Hull manager Grant McCann made one change to his starting team with Australian skipper Jackson Irvine brought in for George Honeyman, who also dropped to the bench.
But it was the home side who dominated from the outset and whom were rightly rewarded for a barrage of early pressure.
Powell teed up Clucas who blasted over from the edge of the box, then Tom Ince rifled over from an acute angle.
Then the opening goal came in the 11th minute when Powell headed the home side ahead from full-back Tommy Smith’s inch-perfect delivery.
Five minutes later Campbell scored from the penalty spot after defender Sean McLoughlin was penalised for a careless handball in the box from Jordan Thompson’s corner.
Campbell had a shot blocked in the box but midfielder Clucas was on hand to mop up the scraps just two minutes later, firing into the top left corner to leave the visitors with a mountain to climb.
Powell should have made it 4-0 soon after but his chipped shot flew inches wide of Long’s left-hand post.
Campbell had a shot smothered by Long as the home side smelt blood, before the keeper produced a fine save to divert a stinging Clucas drive past his right upright.
Stoke skipper Joe Allen had to be carried off on a stretcher at half-time after landing awkwardly after he tripped over Hull substitute Dan Batty.
But Clucas gave the captain something to smile about when he headed home Danny Batth’s header to the back post.
Hull’s defending was woeful and Ince could have scored a fifth goal, only to his shot fly agonisingly wide of the target.
Campbell broke free moments later and composed himself to unleash a powerful left-foot shot, but Long did well to thwart him with a fine save.
Da Silva pulled a goal back, slotting home from Callum Elder’s cross. But it was too little too late.
Clucas went close to scoring a hat-trick but his right-foot shot from the edge of the area was deflected over.
But a fifth goal did come – and with relative ease. Hull’s defence was all at sea once again and Powell was afforded space to poke home debutant Tashan Oakley-Boothe’s cross.
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