Lawrence Shankland took his tally to 26 goals in 23 games as a sparkling Ayr United dismantled an inept Dundee United to move five points clear at the top of the Scottish Championship.
Shankland scored a header and tap-in before the break – both times he was unmarked – then rolled in a penalty and smart finish to complete the rout.
Substitute goalkeeper Matej Rakovan also denied Shankland twice but barged Michael Moffat to concede the spot kick, having been beaten by the striker for Ayr’s third goal.
The win edges Ayr clear of Ross County, who visit Alloa on Saturday.
Ian McCall’s side could have been usurped at the summit with a heavy defeat at Tannadice, but United were abject throughout.
They had won five of their six games under Robbie Neilson to move back into title contention, but a weak Paul McMullan header and a Fraser Aird volley over were their only real moments of promise.
Despite the humiliation, Neilson’s side stay third, a point behind County and six adrift of the leaders.
‘We’re not top by luck’ – reaction
Ayr United striker Lawrence Shankland on BBC ALBA: “It’s a great result for us. We got the first goal early and kicked on from there.
“When you get this far into the season and you’re still top, it’s not luck. We know we’re a good side and coming to a place like this and winning 5-0 shows that.
“If we can keep goals out, we know we will score. Everybody would have expected Dundee United to run over the top of us tonight, but we weren’t going to let that happen.”