Wayne Rooney celebrated the first four-goal haul of his career as he helped send Manchester United soaring back to the top of the Barclays Premier League.
Rooney opened his account against relegation-threatened Hull after just seven minutes. But he had to wait until a similar period from full time before he really cut loose, scoring on three more occasions to become the first United player to hit four in a game since Ruud van Nistelrooy did it in a Champions League encounter with Sparta Prague in November 2004.
"It is the first time I have scored four times in a professional football match and it is a great feeling," said Rooney. "I am really proud of the achievement. It is something special."
On current form, it appears only a matter of time before Rooney gets the five goals required to exceed his previous best seasonal tally of 23.
"I'm confident of beating my best season at United," he said. "I will be disappointed if I don't because I've still got hopefully another 20 games to play. I won't be happy if I don't get more than 23.
"The difference this season is that I've consciously been getting in the box more and trying to put myself in goalscoring situations."
It was a worrying outcome for Manchester City, who meet United in the Carling Cup on Wednesday, a contest which chief executive Garry Cook is ultra confident about.
Far happier will be Fabio Capello, who will learn in his native Italy of a performance that drew warm praise from beaten manager Phil Brown. Although the Tigers could take plenty of credit for the way they battled, particularly after the interval when Kamel Ghilas might easily have equalised, Brown accepted he has no-one at his disposal of Rooney's quality.
"I would have to say he is one of the best strikers in the world just now," said Brown. "He is someone who is capable of making half chances into a great chance. When you see him in that form it certainly bodes well for England at the World Cup."
Predictably, it was Sir Alex Ferguson's best moment too. "Without doubt those four goals were the highlight for me," said Ferguson. "He has been wanting to develop himself as a scorer and there were some terrific finishes."
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