Derby County sent out their biggest statement of the Sky Bet Championship season so far as they inflicted a 2-0 victory over fellow promotion-chasers Hull City at the KC Stadium.

Derby County sent out their biggest statement of the Sky Bet Championship season so far as they inflicted a 2-0 victory over fellow promotion-chasers Hull City at the KC Stadium.

Jacob Butterfield scored twice in an impressive first half showing, before the Rams showed their quality at the back to keep the Tigers at bay and end their unbeaten home record this season.

The win also moved Paul Clement’s side up to the Sky Bet Championship summit for the first time this campaign.

In the pouring Yorkshire rain, Derby started the better, pegging back the hosts and in turn created a number of clear opportunities.

Four of those came inside a particularly strong two-minute spell, Cyrus Christie carving out the clearest of those as he, somehow, waltzed inside from the right, through into the penalty area, before seeing his poked effort turned behind by Allan McGregor.

Hull failed to deal with the resulting corner and were forced to throw their bodies on the line to turn behind Andreas Weimann’s close range effort over the crossbar, before George Thorne saw a drive from outside the area turned behind by McGregor.

Derby kept the pressure up and Chris Martin saw a header from Christie’s cross saved by the Scottish ‘keeper at his near post.

The Rams’ strong start to the contest was duly rewarded as they opened the scoring on 18 minutes.

The link up play between Martin and Weimann was key as the former played a back heel into the latter who, after avoiding a challenge, saw the ball nicked off his toe. Butterfield was lurking, though, and followed up to flash the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.

Chances were and far between for a 10-minute spell after that as Hull tried to get back into the contest.

The next goal in this televised encounter was always going to be important and as Derby held strong they continued to look a threat every time they progressed forward and shortly after the half hour mark, the visitors struck again.

From the right, Christie whipped a dangerous ball into the centre, but despite the initial danger being cleared, the ball, dropping, was struck perfectly on the volley by Butterfield – catching McGregor out and nestling in the bottom corner.

Between then and half time, there was two further key moments as the Rams held on to their two-goal advantage.

As he has done since the start of the season, Carson was again on hand to make big game saves and produced two more in the space of three minutes at KC Stadium.

First Tom Huddlestone, the former Rams Academy graduate, saw a long range drive parried away before he made a better one with three minutes remaining, tipping over Abel Hernandez’s effort for a corner.

Into the second 45 minutes Derby, naturally, were prepared to sit back and soak up the Hull pressure, but did so without conceding many chances.

Before the hour mark, Shaun Maloney had the hosts’ only notable chance, latching on to a back-heel that set him away, but he bent his low shot beyond the post.

The diminutive Scot was proving to be the Tigers’ biggest threat and he shot over again from inside the area as Steve Bruce’s side began to turn the screw.

Jason Shackell got a crucial block in to prevent Hernandez testing Carson just left of centre as the game entered the final 20 minutes - at which point Bruce went for broke and introduced Chuba Akpom, the Arsenal loanee, and Sone Aluko in place of two defenders, but the Rams were at their resolute best and limited the hosts to scraps in front of Carson’s goal.

Tom Ince, playing against his former club, had the best chance in the dying stages of adding to the scoreline, but he smacked his first time effort wide of McGregor’s far post, whilst at the other end Sam Clucas flicked a loose ball over the crossbar following a corner.

Harry Maguire flashed another opportunity wide in, but Derby held on to claim their biggest win of the 2015/16 season so far and move to the top of the Championship table for the first time this campaign.

Hull City: McGregor, Odubajo (Aluko, 75), Elmohamady, Davies (Akpom, 75), Maguire, Huddlestone, Livermore, Maloney, Clucas, Diame (Hayden, 82), Hernandez

Substitutes not used: Jakupovic, Bruce, Taylor, Snodgrass

Derby County: Carson, Christie, Keogh, Shackell, Warnock; Thorne, Hendrick, Butterfield (Bryson, 68); Ince, Weimann (Russell, 82), Martin

Substitutes not used: Grant, Bent, Baird, Pearce, Shotton

Attendance: 17,410 (1,412 Derby supporters)

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