The Tigers staved off Liverpool’s Champions League gasp as captain Michael Dawson’s first goal for his new club gave the home side a vital boost in the fight for Premier League survival at the KC Stadium.
Dawson nodded home a cross midway through the first half to propel Hull City four points above the relegation zone, leaving QPR, Burnley, Sunderland, Leicester City, and Aston Villa in their wake. Liverpool, meanwhile, owned over 70% of the possession and still couldn’t muster many clear-cut chances.
Liverpool fans were few and far between thanks to a ticket price protest, but on the field things shot off right away with both sides producing promising and free-flowing attacks. Mario Balotelli had a few early-minute spats with Tom Huddlestone, but it was Hull who would have the opening chance in the sixth minute, a point-blank header from Dame N’Doye directed straight at Simon Mignolet who kept it out.
Liverpool pushed forward, and Philippe Coutinho looked an engine in the attack. On a corner in the 19th minute, Coutinho latched onto a low driven corner and powered a shot on net that was well-saved Steve Harper. Balotelli had a chance minutes later and like only he could, hit a surprisingly powerful backheel that was unlucky to go straight at Harper.
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Hull down the other end forced a frantic double-save from Mignolet as the game continued to produce chances. With Hull on a spell of possession, they would take the lead after the half-hour mark. A cleared corner came out to Ahmed Elmohamady, and his cross met the head of Dawson who buried it into the corner past Mignolet for the lead.
Liverpool had a golden opportunity minutes later, but Jordan Henderson drove a great look right at Harper on 41 minutes. The Hull keeper stone-walled Henderson yet again after the break with the Liverpool midfielder unleashing a dangerous volley at the far post that forced a diving save. Brendan Rodgers brought on Rickie Lambert for Balotelli as the Italian seemed to fade, and Harper made a third off Henderson’s foot with 20 minutes to go.
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As Hull looked to kill off the game, Martin Skrtel came dangerously close to an own goal with 16 minutes to go looking to clear a Robbie Brady cross, but he headed it just wide and ended the threat. Needing a pair of goals to keep their Champions League hopes alive, Liverpool had little to offer a galvanized Hull side in the final quarter of an hour. Coutinho worked a ball to Raheem Sterling in the box with 8 minutes left but the youngster had only a weak shot to pick out.
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Liverpool’s failure to score effectively ends the Reds’ charge towards a Champions League spot, leaving them five points clear of the top four and unable to capitalize on two straight losses by Manchester United above them. Hull, meanwhile, earn themselves some breathing room at the bottom of the table with 34 points and owning a better goal differential than any of the five clubs below them.
Hull City: Harper, Dawson, Chester, McShane, Elmohamady, Brady, Huddlestone, Livermore, Quinn (Ramirez 84′), Aluko, N’Doye (Rosenior 89′).
Goals: Dawson 37′
Liverpool: Mignolet, Can, Skrtel, Lovren (Markovic 76′), Johnson, Allen, Henderson, Ibe (Lallana 65′), Sterling, Coutinho, Balotelli (Lambert 65′).