Hull City put their off field nightmares behind them as they made the dream start to their Premier League campaign. The Tigers beat champions Leicester City 2-1 at the KCOM Stadium with Robert Snodgrass thumping home the winner. Mike Phelan’s men perhaps taking inspiration from their adversaries using their underdog status and nothing-to-lose attitude to collect a valuable three points.
The final whistle saw Hull huddled up, rousing one another, while Leicester lurched off to cross examine their opening day defeat.
Hull, perhaps liberated by how low expectations have been set, attacked Claudio Ranieri’s side making life uncomfortable for The Foxes from the first whistle.
However the Premier League new boys had to ride their luck throughout with early season rustiness still an issue for Leicester’s two key men – Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, the current PFA Player of the Year looking particularly laboured in his creative efforts. Vardy, an assassin in front of goal last season looked more like a spray-and-pray merchant at the KCOM as he wildly swung at a Ahmed Musa cross before blazing over from ten yards after Musa again did supremely well to create the opportunity for the England forward.
Hull rode their luck further still with Christian Fuchs’ effort well saved after the best move of the match saw the full back exchange a pair of one-twos before driving into the penalty area but lacked finish the move so desperately deserved.
The home side grew in confidence as their fans roared like the tigers which adorn their shirt badges spurring on their much troubled side.
Adama Diomande provided Hull with great attacking intent as the forward combined hustle and bustle with pace and directness giving the often solid Leicester back line fits.
The first goal of the new Premier League season came in acrobatic fashion in the dying embers of first half injury time when Curtis Davies’ header was brilliantly saved by Kasper Schmeichel before both Abel Hernandez and Diomande pulled out the kind of synchronicity that the Olympic divers would be proud of. The air attempted a bicycle kick with both strikers getting a piece of the ball before it flew past the hapless Dane in goal. Confusion and controversy in the Premier League and the season was only 45 minutes old.
Hull surrendered their lead just one minute into the second half when Mahrez converted a controversial penalty. Demarai Gray was brought down clumsily by Tom Huddlestone but the foul appeared to have occurred outside the box. Nevertheless Dean pointed to the spot and the Algerian coolly dispatched the kick the pull the champions level.
Parity was restored for only ten minutes however. A poor throw out by Schmeichel saw Gray robbed of possession and more slack concentration from the ensuing cross saw the ball drop to Robert Snodgrass who let off a left-foot rocket into the bottom corner leaving Schmeichel rooted to the spot. Mike Phelan celebrated wildly on the touchline and strengthened his case to be named the full time manager – although he chose his words very carefully post match.
The Champions looked discombobulated at the back malfunctioning more in one game than they perhaps did over than 38 match miracle marathon they embarked on this time last year. The visitors could have counted themselves lucky that they finished the match with 11 men as Fuchs, already on a yellow card from the first half, planted his foot on to Snodgrass’. Mike Dean played the advantage but did not flash a second card for the incident.
Ranieri threw on the hard working forward Shinji Okazaki to liven up his side who looked lacklustre being bullied by the more urgent home outfit but to no avail. Leicester huffed and puffed but failed to really trouble Eldin Jakupovic in the Hull City goal.
The champions looked less composed than usual and questions will be asked as to how much they will miss N’Golo Kante and how will they deal with the pressure of being champions. The glum faces of Wes Morgan and company at the final whistle paint a picture of a team who had just woken up from the dream.