A scintillating first half display from Southampton set them on their way to an eighth game unbeaten in the Barclays Premier League.
Saints took a 3-0 lead in the opening 45 minutes thanks to Morgan Schneiderlin’s first goal of the season, which was followed by a penalty from Rickie Lambert, before a brilliant solo effort by Adam Lallana effectively wrapped up the contest with just 37 minutes on the clock.
If the hosts were guilty of one short-coming it was the start to the second half, and they were suitably punished when Victor Wanyama’s slip in midfield allowed Yannick Sagbo to capitalise with a reply on 56 minutes to give Hull brief hope.
Fortunately, that hope never materialised, and the nerves were finally extinguished with time running out when substitute Steven Davis added his name to the score sheet with a low finish from Nathaniel Clyne’s cross to cap a fourth successive home league win - the first time that’s happened in the top-flight since a run of five straight wins at the Dell between January and March 1999.
Mauricio Pochettino - the Manager-of-the-Month for October - named an unchanged starting eleven for the hosts from the team that started in the 1-1 draw at Stoke City last time out in the league.
Saints were given a boost by the return of Dani Osvaldo to the matchday 18, and he was joined by young striker Sam Gallagher, who kept his place in the squad from Wednesday’s Capital One Cup defeat at Sunderland.
There was an impeccably observed minute’s silence for All Saints Day ahead of kick-off, as everyone inside the stadium stood quietly as a mark of respect to those who have lost their lives over the last 12 months.
Hull got the game underway, lining up in their changed strip of blue shirts and blue shorts with socks, defending the Northam stand on a cool and clear day at St Mary’s.
The England trio of Jay Rodriguez, Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana were all keen to make an early impression as the hosts made a strong start to the game. The latter brought the supporters back to their feet with a beautiful dummy to get past Maynor Figueroa in the fourth minute, and the resulting cross towards Lambert was narrowly missed by the frontman.
On 7, James Ward-Prowse won the contest’s first corner with a shot that was deflected out on the right side. The youngster whipped in the resulting set-piece, but despite both Lambert and Lovren’s best efforts, the ball wouldn’t quite fall for the gaggle of red shirts flying in to try and meet the delivery.
The visitors played with a narrow shape to defend, but pressed well in attack, forcing a chance for themselves in the 12th minute when Yannick Sagbo dispossessed Victor Wanyama before taking a shot which Jose Fonte threw himself in the way of to thwart the Hull frontman from recording a shot on target.
The breakthrough goal arrived for Saints in the next attack.it came from a typically well-crafted move from the flanks that saw Nathaniel Clyne float a cross to the far post where Rickie Lambert cleverly nodded the ball back into the path of SCHNEIDERLIN, who connected with a perfect header himself to find the top-corner, making it 1-0 after 16 minutes.
The goal came as a belated birthday present to the Frenchman who celebrated his first strike of the season the day after his 24th birthday.
He was then in the right place at the other end to save Saints by tracking back to head the ball out inside his own area.
Then, as Clyne, Lallana and Lambert linked up with breath-taking ease again moments later, the home support paid homage to the ‘England’ team with a few terrace chants usually heard at Wembley Stadium, that were now ringing around St Mary’s with national team manager Roy Hodgson present to hear them.
A game of cat and mouse broke out in midfield before Saints reasserted their dominance, culminating in a terrific through-ball from Rickie Lambert to set Adam Lallana through on goal. However, as he skipper reached the edge of the area, he was tripped by the on-rushing City keeper Steve Harper, which led to the award of a penalty on the half hour with Harper also booked.
LAMBERT stepped up, and although the keeper went the right way, he could do nothing about the powerful strike from Saints’ number seven, who claimed his fourth goal of the season with an assured finish from 12 yards.
Saints ramped up the pressure from there with Ward-Prowse next to add a touch of class by sending in a teasing free-kick delivery to the far post that a desperate header away from a blue shirt almost drew an own goal.
But the third goal wasn’t long in coming, and what a wonderful finish it was too from a player whose recent form has been nothing short of exceptional. Buoyed by chants of, ‘he’s off to Brazil’ Adam LALLANA picked up the ball in the centre and brought the ball out to the left where he cut inside gracefully before planting a superb low finish into the far corner for 3-0 on 37 minutes.
The ease of which a rampant Saints were now moving the ball around the pitch told its own story with Hull having no answer to the attacking threat from the hosts.
Hull did manage to win a corner inside the last five minutes of the half when George Boyd knocked the ball off Fonte, but the resulting set piece was headed away easily by Rodriguez.
Saints went back on the march in the closing stages of the half with Luke Shaw the next red shirt to try his luck with an attack, but he was pushed to the floor by Hull captain Curtis Davies, who was booked for his clumsy challenge on the full back.
The final move of the half came from another Hull corner, but Dejan Lovren was well placed to clear Maynor Figueroa’s header from the line as Saints’ three goal lead was preserved going into the break.
HALF-TIME: SOUTHAMPTON 3-0 HULL CITY
Hull made a change at the interval, with Robert Koren replacing Ahmed Elmohamady – who had been totally anonymous - in the Tigers’ midfield for the second 45 minutes.
It didn’t take Saints too long to regain their rhythm as they passed the ball around to good effect in their opponents’ half, though to their credit, Hull looked a much more solid side in the opening stages.
But it was from Saints’ own doing that they allowed the visitors a sniff of a way back into the game when a loose bit of control from Wanyama saw the ball drop for SAGBO who hit a low and crisp finish into the bottom corner to make it 3-1 in the 56th minute.
That strike certainly brought the contest back to life, with Saints now needing to find the standards they set in the first half to ensure they didn’t raise the hope of Steve Bruce’s side any further.
And Saints were more fluid thereafter. Lambert chipped a nicely weighted pass towards Luke Shaw, but a last ditch header prevented the full back from connecting to it.
From the corner that followed, Fonte managed to draw the ball under control before smashing a volley into the Hull defenders, but the pressure continued as Saints sensed another opportunity.
A delicious one-two between Lallana and Lambert brought a smart save from Harper after the skipper travelled the width of the penalty area to cut inside for a shot aimed at the far corner that was just about pushed to safety.
From another corner, David Meyler cleared the ball off the line from Schneiderlin’s low drive back towards goal from the edge of the area, and Hull hung on further when Fonte headed Ward-Prowse’s free-kick over the bar.
Saints made their first substitution on 63 minutes when Wanyama was taken off. Steven Davis came on in the Kenyan’s place.
Davis was eager to get involved, but both sets of defences began to bypass the midfield as the contest flitted between either penalty area, until Hull eventually won a corner.
Hull rolled the dice with on-loan striker Danny Graham coming on in place of Meyler, but they soon had cause for concern at the other end when a poor delivery from the set piece saw Saints make a lively breakaway that unfortunately petered out as a swarm of red shirts burst into the visitors’ half.
Saints made their second change in the 76th minute with Dani Osvaldo replacing Lambert, and the Italian had a hand in supplying Lallana for a cross that Rodriguez met with a header, but the striker’s effort just cleared the bar as he tried to add his name to the score sheet.
Osvaldo then made Harper work by connecting with a header from a deep cross that looped towards the net, but easy enough for the glovesman to gather.
Schneiderlin deservedly went into the book for foul on Liam Rosenior as play ticked into the last ten minutes of action, and that preceded the final change from Hull, who brought on Stephen Quinn for George Boyd in midfield.
Adam Lallana went off to a standing ovation in the 84th minute as he was replaced by Jack Cork, with the clock now just counting down to the inevitable victory.
Hull’s chances of getting back into it had all-but evaporated, something symbolised by Jake Livermore’s ambitious swing at an effort that went over the crossbar, with Artur Boruc still largely untested in the Saints goal.
Saints would instead go on to restore their three goal margin in the 88th minute when Clyne’s low cross found Steven DAVIS who turned to hit a low shot into the bottom right corner for 4-1.
A further four minutes were added on for stoppages, during which time, Rodriguez was unfortunate not to get the goal he craved in the game after his England call-up, but the frontman was thwarted in his attempts to pull the trigger.
A fifth goal, alas was not forthcoming for the hosts, but a 4-1 victory equalled last season’s biggest success on home soil as Saints made it four successive league wins at St Mary’s.
FULL-TIME: SOUTHAMPTON 4-1 HULL CITY
Southampton team: Artur Boruc, Nathaniel Clyne, Jose Fonte, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw, Morgan Schneiderlin, Victor Wanyama (Steven Davis 63), James Ward-Prowse, Adam Lallana (c) (Jack Cork 84), Jay Rodriguez, Rickie Lambert (Dani Osvaldo 76)
Unused substitutes: Kelvin Davis, Calum Chambers, Jos Hooiveld, Sam Gallagher
Goals: Schneiderlin, 16; Lambert (pen), 30; Lallana, 37; Steven Davis, 88
Hull City team: Steve Harper, Liam Rosenior, Maynor Figueroa, Curtis Davies (c), Paul McShane, David Meyler (Danny Graham 72), Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore, George Boyd (Stephen Quinn 80), Ahmed Elmohamady (Robert Koren 46), Yannick Sagbo
Unused substitutes: Eldin Jakupovic, Alex Bruce, Mohamed Nagy, Nick Proschwitz
Goal: Yannick Sagbo, 56
Referee: Phil Dowd
Attendance: 30,022 (including 1,434 away)