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Bruce wowed by Huddlestone show


Tom Huddlestone scored Hull's fourth goal against Fulham

Tom Huddlestone scored Hull's fourth goal against Fulham

Tom Huddlestone scored Hull's fourth goal against Fulham

Hull manager Steve Bruce hailed Tom Huddlestone's midfield masterclass in the 6-0 victory over Fulham as the best individual performance he has ever seen.

As a former Manchester United captain who shared a pitch with the likes of Bryan Robson, Paul Ince and Roy Keane, Bruce is hardly short of benchmarks but even he was staggered by Huddlestone's contribution to a remarkable victory at the KC Stadium.

The former Tottenham midfielder, celebrating his 27th birthday, was superb from first minute to last, controlling the centre of the park, 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 club 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 David Stockdale.

A rapt Bruce said: "The lads stood and applauded Tom when he walked into the dressing room and that doesn't happen often.

"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 captain Robert Koren, who netted twice from close range, Matty Fryatt and George Boyd.

Ahmed Elmohamady, meanwhile, set the ball rolling by opening the scoring three minutes into the second half.

Hull had scored just nine times in their previous nine games at the KC Stadium 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."

Shell-shocked Fulham coach Rene Meulensteen was at a loss to explain his side's shortcomings.

Having beaten Norwich on Boxing Day, hopes were high for a mini revival but they were dashed 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."

Hull lost 3-2 to Manchester United on Boxing, despite leading 2-0 at one stage, so to respond to that setback in style was a relief for the home side.

For Huddlestone, there was the added satisfaction he can have an overdue haircut.

"After the way we lost to Man United, we had to bounce back and I think we did that," Huddlestone said on Sky Sports News.

"I've got a decent record against Fulham so once the game was sort of secure at 3-0 I was trying to push myself on a little bit and fortunately I managed to nick a goal."

He stressed the hair-snip pitchside celebration was far from impromptu.

"That's been sorted out since the beginning of last season at Tottenham. I just had to wait until today for it to happen," he said.

"It's been for a good cause but hopefully I can cut it now."