Post by Football News on Apr 22, 2017 17:29:00 GMT
Hull 2 - 0 Watford
Ten-man Hull’s Sam Clucas seals win over Watford to boost survival bid
Home team scorers Lazar Markovic 62 Sam Clucas 71
When Oumar Niasse was controversially sent off with well over an hour still to play, Marco Silva’s impeccable home record seemed in severe jeopardy. Reminding everyone that appearances can be desperately deceptive things, his Hull City side responded by defying all available odds to register yet another win in their fight against relegation.
It meant Silva’s side have collected an extraordinary 19 points from a possible 21 on East Yorkshire soil since he succeeded Mike Phelan in early January. Thanks to second-half goals from Lazar Markovic and the excellent Sam Clucas, Hull kept their noses in front of Swansea City, staying 17th at the end of an afternoon that started less than auspiciously for a manager who has now not lost a home fixture in England, Greece or his native Portugal for more than three years.
Harry Maguire has turned into a much admired, if not exactly jet-heeled, young centre half – Rafa Benítez seems particularly keen to re-home him at Newcastle United next season – but the Hull defender revealed his imperfect side within the first minute.
What should have been a routine backpass to Eldin Jakupovic became a horribly mis-hit shot that whizzed inches wide of the far post, leaving Maguire grateful to have merely conceded a corner.
Had that gone in it would have been Watford’s first away goal in the Premier League since January but they began as if on a mission to correct that statistic. Andy Robertson may be coveted by Liverpool but Silva’s left-back found Nordin Amrabat quite a handful.
With the stream of long balls pumped forward by Walter Mazzarri’s team also bothering Maguire and Andrea Ranocchia it took time for Clucas and company to get their passing game going. Then, just as the visitors had finally started to look a little ruffled, Niasse was shown that highly contentious red card after catching M’Baye Niang with his studs.
Granted it was a little high, a little late, studs up and the striker’s boot fleetingly caught the winger on the knee but Niasse’s challenge as they competed for the ball did not appear either recklessly out of control or intentional. It was certainly not a cynically calculated lunge and should probably have led merely to a yellow card.
Although the actual impact seemed both minimal and accidental, what probably swung the decision-making of the referee, Robert Madley, was that, before collapsing in apparent agony, Niasse unleashed an anguished, piercing, scream so loud it could be heard in one of England’s highest press boxes.
While a suddenly seething Silva lost his customary cool and began raging at the match officials, Niang writhed around on the ground, pointing at his knee in finest am-dram fashion for some time. When he finally got up it seemed that one of his socks looked ripped but he was immediately able to run freely.
If whether or not a tackle actually injures a player should have no bearing on the resultant punishment, Hull fans were convinced Niang had set out to con Madley.
The home crowd were certainly not about to offer him the benefit of the doubt and duly booed him every time he touched the ball. Thanks to a superb save from Jakupovic that kept Sebastian Prodl’s header out the scoreline remained goalless at half time but Madley had not been forgiven and, flanked by stewards, walked off at the interval to a soundtrack of toxic, cacophonous jeers.
It did not help the referee’s cause that, by now, Mazzarri was also on his case, the Italian having taken exception to a bad challenge on Niang from Ranocchia which, presumably in the interests of self-preservation, Madley had turned a blind eye to. In mitigation Watford’s unappealing tendency to indulge in gamesmanship and frequently cry wolf had perhaps coloured Madley’s judgment.
Fuelled by righteous anger, Hull regrouped and, to wholesale astonishment, took the lead. No sooner had Jakupovic made an important save from Étienne Capoue than Hull broke quickly with Kamil Grosicki escaping Watford’s defence and advancing down the right before crossing to the onrushing Lazar Markovic. Although the Liverpool loanee’s header bounced down on the goalline Markovic made sure of scoring by extending a boot and lashing home from point-blank range.
Shortly afterwards Clucas took time out from helping hold things together in midfield to curve a free-kick fractionally wide of an upright and then a midfielder said to be on Gareth Southgate’s England radar scored Hull’s second.
When Watford could only partially clear a corner the ball fell to Clucas who seamlessly chested it down and beat Heurelho Gomes with a sublime left-foot volley.
Oumar Niasse will be available to play against Southampton at the weekend following a successful appeal against the red card shown to the striker against Watford. Niasse had been set to serve a three-match ban after referee Robert Madley produced a straight red card following a 25th-minute challenge on M’Baye Niang. However, after the Tigers lodged an appeal with The FA the decision was overturned, meaning Niasse, who has scored five times since arriving on loan from Everton in January, can play a full part in the Club’s continuing fight for Premier League survival.