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Hull 6-0 Fulham Prem 19 1314 The Guardian

last updated Monday 30th December 2013, 9:20 AM

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Richard Rae at The Guardian

Hull (0) 6 Fulham (0) 0

Steve Bruce hailed Tom Huddlestone's midfield masterclass as the best individual performance he has ever seen. As a former Manchester United captain who shared a pitch with Bryan Robson, Paul Ince and Roy Keane, the Hull manager is hardly short of benchmarks but even he was staggered by Huddlestone's contribution to a remarkable victory.

The former Tottenham midfielder, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Saturday, was superb from first minute to last, controlling the centre of the field, spraying pinpoint passes with both feet and ending a two-and-a-half-year scoring drought when finding the bottom corner from 20 yards.

He celebrated by allowing Hull physio Rob Price to cut a lock of hair on the touchline - having pledged to grow out his afro until he found the net.

Huddlestone might even have had a hat-trick, clattering the post in the first half and then seeing an audacious 40-yard free-kick tipped on to the crossbar by the Fulham goalkeeper, David Stockdale.

"The lads stood and applauded Tom when he walked into the dressing room and that doesn't happen often," said Bruce. "I don't often pick out individuals but I don't think I've witnessed a performance as good as I've just seen from Tom.

"He gave a masterclass of how to play in midfield. He had the lot: free-kicks, passing range, goals, a shot from 40 yards. He hit the post and the bar ... he's just an outstanding footballer, absolutely outstanding.

"I've been fortunate to have played in some good teams but I can't really remember an individual performance as good as he produced today.

"The free-kick from 40 yards, not many people can even strike from there and the movement he got on it is something he practises in training. Nobody can strike it like him and all those hours on the training ground have worked."

Indeed, the only area where Huddlestone did not win Bruce's full praise was his unusual celebration. "Maybe he's been rehearsing that ... when I saw the physio get the scissors out I thought 'I've seen it all now'," Bruce said. "It was ridiculous, I have to say."

Huddlestone's hair growth has been part of a fundraising drive for Cancer Research UK and Hull have confirmed they will be auctioning the hair clipped by Price for charity.

Outside of Huddlestone's man-of-the-match display there were first goals of the season for the captain, Robert Koren, who scored twice from close range, Matty Fryatt and George Boyd. Ahmed Elmohamady set the ball rolling by opening the scoring three minutes into the second half.

Hull had scored nine times in their previous nine games at home and Bruce was happy to bask in a rare prolific day. "It was one of the great days that we will remember for a long, long time," he said. "In my experience it doesn't often happen that you go and win 6-0 in the Barclays Premier League.

"It was quite incredible. We got the first one and then the floodgates opened, which doesn't happen very often at this level."

The shellshocked Fulham coach, Rene Meulensteen, was at a loss to explain his side's shortcomings. Having beaten Norwich away at Carrow Road on Boxing Day, hopes were high for a mini revival but they were ended in brutal fashion. "I've asked myself what happened and I've asked the players. I didn't see this coming," he said.

"I've been saying to all the media and all the press that the lads have been fantastic for me, that I can't fault the performances they've put in, that we haven't got the results we deserved but this is something completely different.

"Losing is hard to take but losing in such a manner is hard for any professional player."

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