Birmingham City manager Chris Hughton hailed the work rate of Nikola Zigic after the giant striker fired all his side's goals in a resounding 4-1 win at Leeds United on Tuesday night.

The 6ft 7in Serb headed home his first in the 31st minute to cancel out Leeds striker Ross McCormack's 19th-minute opener.

Zigic then struck three times in seven second-half minutes with two more headers and a thumping finish to put the rampant Blues out of sight by the 68th minute.

Zigic had doubled his tally for the season by the time he left the field to rapturous acclaim from the travelling Blues fans after falling awkwardly when heading home his fourth goal.

Hughton, whose side moved up to fourth with a sixth straight win in all competitions, said: "I'm delighted for him because he's a big lad is Nikola and when you're 6ft 7in at times you're not going to be the most graceful or the quickest.

"But he is a player who, if you give good service, he can be a real awkward customer to play against.

"And he can score goals and he showed that today.

"They were four very good finishes, not only technically very good finishes, but also his movement, which was excellent.

"He's a really good lad for us. He always works hard. You'd be surprised the distance he covers in a game, I'm really pleased for him."

Birmingham have lost only once since exiting the Europa League in December and cranked up the pressure on their promotion rivals by extending their unbeaten run to 10 matches.

But Hughton admitted his side rode their luck in the first 20 minutes when Luciano Becchio and Leeds strike partner McCormack squandered three golden chances between them.

Hughton added: "The second goal demoralised them a little bit and the of course once you get the third and fourth, in the end it probably seemed a bit more comfortable that what it was.

"But we're a side full of confidence. I think we've got 18 goals in the last five games.

"At the moment we're not only creating chances, we're clinical enough and today was Nikola's day."

Leeds manager Simon Grayson cut a dejected figure on the touchline in the last 20 minutes as Blues fans taunted him with chants of: "You're getting sacked in the morning".

Grayson's side had won two and drawn one of their last three games, but this latest slump in front of a crowd of only 19,628, comes too soon after three successive defeats over the Christmas period had seen them slide out of the top six.

Grayson said: "It was fantastic how we started the game. We could have been two or three up in the first five or 10 minutes and that's why it's hard to explain a result that you just couldn't see after 60 minutes.

"But we showed our inexperience and naivety with the goals we conceded because you've got a 6ft 7in bloke who has played at the highest level and we didn't stop the source with the balls they were getting in.

"It was too easy for him to score the goals."