Hull 2-0 Watford: Ten-man Tigers boost survival hopes
By Dan Long
Last Updated: 22/04/17 7:37pm
Goals from Lazar Markovic and Sam Clucas further boosted Hull's Premier League survival hopes in a superb 2-0 win over a flat Watford side at the KCOM on Saturday.
Marco Silva's gameplan took a hit after just 25 minutes when Oumar Niasse received his marching orders for a high foot on M'Baye Niang; a decision greeted by controversy among both the players and the KCOM faithful.
Just after the hour mark, Kamil Grosicki led a swift counter (62) after a Watford free-kick was cleared and squared for Markovic who headed onto the underside of the bar, before lashing in the rebound from close range.
And nine minutes later Clucas rounded off the performance with a stunner (71), volleying home a Watford clearance from 30 yards to continue their fine run of home form and keep the threat of the drop at bay.
Watford reached the sacred 40-point survival milestone last weekend against Swansea, but with just two points separating Hull and 18th-placed Swansea, the stakes were high in east Yorkshire.
The starting eleven of both sides remained largely unaltered from last weekend; Miguel Britos replaced Adrian Mariappa in the centre of the Hornets defence, while for the home side, Tom Huddlestone and Michael Dawson made way from Ahmed Elmohamady and Evandro.
The game started with early confusion in the Tigers' defence when Harry Maguire passed a free-kick back to Eldin Jakupovic, the 'keeper forced to recover well to prevent a calamitous own goal.
Clucas swiped over the first Hull chance of the game on 16 minutes, but just nine minutes later, the mood of the game shifted when Niasse and Niang simultaneously challenged for the same ball.
Niasse's contact on the AC Milan loanee's shin was minimal, but there can be no question his studs were raised, the aptly-placed Bobby Madley took mere seconds to brandish the red card, much to the frontman's dismay.
With 12 minutes remaining in the half, Jose Holebas' corner was powerfully met by Sebastian Prodl as he leapt alongside Andrea Ranocchia; Jakupovic had to display his best reactions as he pushed the header over the bar.
Hull rode out the remainder of the half on tenterhooks, and the half-time whistle was met by relief from the players, while boos directed at Madley rang out from the stands.
The second half began in a tardy fashion, but after an hour that was all to change; Grosicki charged down the left and beat both Tom Cleverley and Nordin Amrabat. The attack came to nothing but it was a pre-cursor to what was to happen just minutes later.
A Hornets free-kick was headed away by Maguire, before the ball found its way to Grosicki on the left. He drove forward and spotted Markovic in the centre of the 18-yard box, before looping in a cross that the winger headed onto the underside of the bar.
The goal decision system ruled the ball had not crossed the line, but Markovic lashed the rebound over the line for good measure.
Clucas curled a 25-yard free-kick narrowly wide before he doubled the scoring two minutes later, bringing down a Watford clearance and arrowing a 30-yard stunner past a helpless Heurelho Gomes.
Watford hadn't really threatened thanks to the resolute defending of Maguire but this was the final nail in the coffin, Mazzarri bringing on Isaac Success and Stefano Okaka to little effect.
Hull: Jakupovic (7), Elmohamady (7), Ranocchia (7), Maguire (8), Robertson (7), Markovic (7), Clucas (8), N'Diaye (6), Grosicki (8), Evandro (6), Niasse (5)
Subs used: Hernandez (6), Huddlestone (4), Dawson (4)
Watford: Gomes (5), Janmaat (6), Prödl (6), Britos (5), Holebas (6), Cleverley (6), Doucouré (5), Capoue (5), Amrabat (6), Deeney (5), Niang (5)
Subs used: Success (5), Okaka (5), Zuniga (4)
Man of the match: Kamil Grosicki