Hull City 0-4 Leeds United: Tigers dismantled as Leeds march one step closer
HULL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 29: Leeds United's Helder Costa celebrates after Tyler Roberts scored his sides third goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Hull City and Leeds United at KCOM Stadium on February 29, 2020 in Hull, England. (Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images)

West Bromich Albion, Fulham, Nottingham Forest, Brentford - take note. Leeds United have their mojo back, and are rapidly picking up steam.

Four successive victories - each adorned with a clean sheet - have opened up an eight-point chasm between 2nd and 3rd (at the time of writing), and it's going to take an unprecedented capitulation, even for Leeds' standards, to throw that invaluable automatic promotion slot away now.

An injury-ravaged Hull City stood little chance in the way of the Leeds juggernaut, and were duly dismantled, leaving them without a win since New Years Day. Relegation threats loom despairingly large for a side that was challenging for the play-offs prior to the departures of Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki, with their safety cushion - now just four points - diminishing by the game.

But today was about Leeds United, and another statement victory on the road to the promised land.

Story of the match

In an attritional first half of very few chances, Leeds - who have felt the world conspiring against them at times this season - were afforded a rare morsel of luck when Luke Ayling's deflected strike fortuitously looped over George Long to break the deadlock.

It had been an unconvincing start from Marcelo Bielsa's men, and the Argentine knew it. His agitated touchline antics suggested discontent, and it was not long before he changed system altogether, moving to a back three with Hull's attacking trident extremely narrow.

Indeed, the hosts targeted the physical frame of Josh Magennis, who had Martin Samuelsen and Mallik Wilks in close proximity. They were a part of a side that, on the whole, showed signs of intent and impetus in the opening stages, seemingly unwilling to bow out meekly.

Nevertheless, two minutes into the second half and Leeds had doubled their advantage. Jack Harrison's feeble cross trickled through to Helder Costa, who slipped Pablo Hernandez in behind the Hull defense, the Spaniard then firing unerringly into the bottom corner. Leeds had rediscovered their groove.

It is likely a few home truths were shared by Bielsa at half time, with the team of the second half a rejuvenated, turbo-charged version of the one of the first. Some neat interplay soon found Costa, whose lightning feet opened up a pocket of space. Costa shot low, but Long smothered.

Harrison was next to get in on the action, whipping a viciously-dipping effort onto the post from outside the penalty area. Leeds had assumed total control. 10 minutes later, however, and the frame of the goal was forced into action once again, this time at the other end of the pitch, withstanding a rasping half-volley from Hull substitute Norbert Balogh. Bielsa's men had their warning.

It needn't matter, though, as in the 81st minute, Tyler Roberts put the game out of reach. A slick Leeds counter-attack found Costa on the edge of the penalty area, whose incisive pass picked out an unmarked Mateusz Klich. Klich cut back first-time for Roberts, who lashed his shot into the bottom corner.

Hull fans began to pour out, but Leeds' rampage had not yet ceased. The same duo, Klich and Roberts, combined once more for the misery compiler, with the Poland international serving the goal on a platter for Roberts with his expertly-lifted ball from midfield. Roberts headed home, and soaked up the adulation in front of the travelling supporters once again. Leeds had recorded their biggest away win since 2011, and at no better time could it have arrived.

Takeaways from the match

Meslier unconvincing

Having kept a clean sheet at just 19-years-old, it would be easy to paper over the cracks of what was an unconvincing performance from Leeds' debutant, Illan Meslier.

An eight-game ban to Kiko Casilla for racially abusing Charlton Athletic's Jonathan Leko had forced Bielsa's hand this afternoon, so in came Meslier, deputising in between the sticks for the Spaniard.

Yet, with Casilla's position already under scrutiny following a succession of errors, there was initially little cause for despair amongst Leeds fans, who had witnessed a relatively encouraging performance from Meslier at The Emirates.

However, today's clean sheet was less a reflection of Meslier's assuredness, and more a representation of Hull's blunted offense. 

Despite commanding his box well, Meslier's distribution was perpetually wayward, which mounted pressure on the defence. Nerves no doubt played their part, but only so much can be attributed to the intangibles. Casilla's passing range was badly missed, something which Meslier, quite frankly, does not yet possess. 

What now for Hull?

Make no bones about it - Grant McCann's Hull City are in a relegation dogfight.

The hosts were not short of application today, but their endeavours always looked to be in vain, as, with ten senior players out injured, Hull were thin on the ground - and it showed.

First-choice center-halfs Jordy De Wijs and Reece Burke were both absent this afternoon and left Leeds to pick apart an inexperienced rearguard, condemning Hull to their 9th defeat in 11 matches.

Just four points now separate Hull from the drop, with today's thumping adding extra weight to upcoming home games against Charlton and Middlesbrough, where everything is on the line.

The departures of the prolific Bowen and Grosicki, although inevitable, have hit Hull where it hurts. But, with Luton Town, Wigan Athletic and Barnsley all hitting their stride, Hull have no time to sulk. 

VAVEL Logo