Dundee United opened up a 17 point gap at the top of the Championship table as they convincingly beat Partick Thistle at Firhill.
Laurence Shankland opened the scoring on the 38th minute with a glancing header before Adrian Sporle tapped home from close range on the stroke of half time.
The second half was the Shankland show as the inform man added further two goals, taking his tally to 24 goals for the season.
On the 60th minute the 24-year old added his second of the afternoon when he cut inside and evaded numerous challenges by Thistle defenders before firing into the bottom corner.
Shankland completed his hat-rick five minutes later as he controlled a cross from Peter Pawlett and smashed a thunderbolt into the top corner before celebrating with the travelling United fans.
The scoring wasn’t finished there however, as Kenny Miller pulled one back in the dying moments, but it made no difference as the Jags dropped down a place into the play-off spot.
Partick Thistle had an early penalty shout as Reece Cole’s effort looked to have hit a Dundee United hand, but referee Willie Collum instead pointed for a corner.
Up the other end a free-kick from Nicky Clark was headed straight at Scott Fox by Laurence Shankland.
The game at Firhill was one of very few matches across Scotland which survived a pitch inspection, but that certainly didn’t affect the quality on show.
On the 27th minute, Declan Glass burst forward with pace before seeing his dipping and swerving effort saved well by Fox.
The best chance of the first half arrived just before the half hour mark when Dario Zanatta fashioned a great opportunity. A lung-bursting run down the left-wing seen the Jags striker cut inside and have an effort at goal which was saved by the legs of Benjamin Siegrist.
Five minutes later, the Terrors keeper pulled off a fantastic save from point-blank range to ensure it remained goalless. A cross from the left-hand side from Zanatta found veteran striker Kenny Miller at the back-post and his effort looked destined to find the back of the net until it was brilliantly blocked by Siegrist.
Ian McCall’s side were left to rue their missed opportunities as United took the lead on the 38th minute. A corner from Clark found Shankland, who managed to beat his marker and glance his header into the far corner beyond a helpless Scott Fox.
Dundee United doubled their lead on the verge of half time as Glass’s cross-come shot found Adrian Sporle and he had the simple task of tapping the ball home from a couple of yards out.
The second half started similar to the first half, but that man Shankland showed the true quality he has as he put his side three-nil up on the hour mark.
After being played in by Glass, Shankland cut inside onto his right foot and despite there being four Thistle defenders around him, he still managed to find an angle and drill his effort into the bottom corner.
Five minutes later United added a fourth and it was beginning to turn into a rout. The move was started by Shankland, who played it out to substitute Peter Pawlett on the wing. He then set it up perfectly for the on rushing Shankland, who took one touch and excellently fired his effort into the top corner with his left foot to complete a perfect hat-rick.
The Jags pulled one back on the 87th minute with Miller volleying home the rebound after Siegrist could only parry an ambitious effort from Mitch Austin.
Full Time- Partick Thistle 1-4 Dundee United
I expected Dundee United to win today, but I thought the score line flattered them a little. There is no doubt that Laurence Shankland is far to good for the Championship and more than deserves a big move, however one player that really impressed me was young Declan Glass. The 19-year old was outstanding and looks a player to keep a very close eye on.
It’s fair to say United have already won the title already bar a major slip up and I’m looking forward to seeing how they get on against Hibernian in the Scottish Cup next weekend.
Partick Thistle XI
Fox, Williamson(68), Saunders, O’Ware, Penrice, Cole, Bannigan, Cardle(62), Zanatta, Miller, Jones(46)
Subs- Sneddon, McGinty(68), Robson(46), Slater, Austin(62), Harkins, Mansell
Dundee United XI
Siegrist, Reynolds, Connolly, Watson(65), Smith, Sporle, Powers, Glass(74), Clark(77), Appere, Shankland
Subs- Mehmet, Freeman, King(77), Mochrie(74), Pawlett(65), Stanton, Sow
Referee- Willie Collum
Attendance- 4,101 (1,586 United)
Goals- Shankland(38,60,65), Sporle(45), Miller(87)
Yellow Cards- Saunders(29), Shankland(67)
Red Cards- N/A