Image: John Powell
Hull picked up an enormous 3 points with their 1-0 victory over Liverpool, dealing the visitors a costly blow in the quest for European football next season.
The win for Steve Bruce’s side was just their 5th home victory all season, but it came at just the right time as it lifts them to 15th in the table. This positions them 4 points clear of the drop zone and 1 point shy of a struggling Newcastle side. Hull are not out of the woods yet and have one of the toughest run-ins, but back-to-back victories and clean sheets have rejuvenated this side that are now just 3 points shy of their Premier League record.
Liverpool are now 7 points off 4th placed Manchester United, with the loss seeing them miss out on a chance to close the gap. They also failed to put some distance between themselves and Spurs, who are level on points, as well as Southampton who are just behind. Their draw at West Brom at the weekend and last night’s match was the perfect opportunity to put some breathing distance between themselves and the pair directly behind them, but now there is a real battle for Europa qualification.
It was a hard earned and well deserved 3 points for the home side, who looked comfortable throughout and created the better opportunities. It was Michael Dawson who gave the Tigers their lead in the 37th minute, seeing the defender score his first goal since 2013. Dawson made a well timed run to meet Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross, sending a well placed header passed an outstretched Mignolet.
Liverpool lacked urgency in the 2nd half and failed to create a goalscoring opportunity until the 63rd minute. Henderson’s left footed volley looked as if it were creeping into the bottom corner, but Harper got down well to push the ball out for a corner. It was another lacklustre performance from Balotelli, who was replaced along with Jordan Ibe shortly after for Lambert and Lallana.
These substitutions did little did chance Liverpool’s fortunes, who struggled to break down a well organised and disciplined Hull side. The visitors resorted to long range efforts which Harper dealt with comfortably, seeing the 40 year old keeper easily keep out their 12 efforts on goal.
Hull defended in numbers but at times looked the more likely to score on the counter attack, particularly with an in-form Dame N’Doye creating all kinds of problems for the Liverpool defence throughout. As the game went on Bruce ordered his men to sit further back and to soak up the pressure, which they did admirably for the remainder of the match to see them take a huge step towards avoiding the drop next month.
Brendan Rodgers’ side have picked up just 4 points from a possible 15, and with their Champions League aspirations all but over and Sturridge possible out for the season, they will be looking over their shoulder at Spurs and Southampton just behind them.
2 wins in 4 days for Hull has transformed their season and given them real hope for survival. Steve Bruce knows there is still plenty of work to do however, with Aston Villa, QPR and Leicester all finding some form and picking up important points in recent weeks. Hull will want to add to their points tally to ensure safety, but if they are to do so they will have to take points off of Arsenal, Burnley, Spurs or Man United in a formidable run-in.