Hull City 1-3 Aston Villa: Steve Bruce's side start season in style
Goals from Tommy Elphick, Ahmed Elmohamady and Alan Hutton cancel out Evandro's opener
By Dan Long
Last Updated: 07/08/18 6:05am
Aston Villa survived an early scare to come from behind and beat Hull 3-1 in the final game of the Sky Bet Championship opening weekend on Monday evening.
Hull got off to the brighter start and went ahead when Evandro hooked the opener from Jed Steer's punch after seven minutes, before their backline switched off and allowed Tommy Elphick to head home unmarked (14).
Jarrod Bowen had a shot saved early after the restart, but Ahmed Elmohamady strode through the Tigers' backline and struck a low shot to put Villa in front for the first time with 20 minutes to play (70).
Hull City: Marshall (5), Lichaj (6), De Wijs (4), Burke (5), Kingsley (6), Batty (7), Henriksen (7), Bowen (8), Kane (7), Evandro (7), Campbell (6)
Subs: Dicko (5), Milinkovic (4), Keane (n/a)
Aston Villa: Steer (7), Chester (6), Elphick (7), Hutton (8), Elmohamady (8), Whelan (6), Hourihane (6), Taylor (6), Grealish (7), Adomah (6), Kodjia (5)
Subs: Green (5), Hepburn-Murphy (5), Bjarnason (n/a)
Man of the match: Ahmed Elmohamady
But in a second half that had lacked tempo, Alan Hutton danced into the area and prodded home (75) to give Steve Bruce's side a valuable three points after a summer of discontent off the pitch.
Nigel Adkins' side, which featured four summer signings, started at a high tempo and were rewarded for their desire to play on the front foot when Todd Kane's free-kick was punched clear by Steer; Evandro improvised and, with excellent technique, looped his shot home.
With a much-changed defence, it was perhaps Hull's lack of defensive experience that gifted Elphick the equaliser. Reece Burke and Jordy de Wijs were drawn away from the centre-back, affording him acres of space to nod in to level.
Flowing interplay in the hosts' midfield gave both Bowen and Evandro chances to try their luck, but the returning Steer made two smart, low saves in his first appearance since January.
At the other end, Jonathan Kodjia was gifted a chance of his own when he seized upon a sloppy pass from De Wijs, but saw his effort charged down with Elmohamady in space just yards away.
Four of Hull's summer acquisitions in the shape of Eric Lichaj, Reece Burke, Todd Kane and Jordy de Wijs started the game at the KCOM, while David Milinkovic and George Long began the game on the bench.
Without a solitary signing after their financial uncertainty over the summer, Villa boss Steve Bruce named a familiar starting eleven, with the significant inclusion of prized asset Jack Grealish amid lingering interest from Tottenham. Goalkeeper Jed Steer made just his second league appearance for Villa following his recovery from a dislocated shoulder.
Albert Adomah was felled in the area after the hour, but though Conor Hourihane curled a free-kick over the bar soon after, Elmohamady took advantage of David Marshall's goal-kick to strike an angled effort and put Villa in front for the first time.
Just as the hosts were looking to pull one back of their own, the game was put beyond them when De Wijs afforded full-back Hutton space to wriggle his way past several defenders and put a third over the line in a clinical performance that left plenty of room for improvement.
Nigel Adkins: "The three goals were really poor. We started well with loads of energy, it was a great goal from Evandro and it was what we deserved. Unfortunately it was disappointing to concede. I thought we were in the ascendancy in the second half and I tried to be positive with the subs and I tried to be proactive, but you can't be prepared for the poor goals. Having said that, we created four really good opportunities towards the end of the game.
"The goalkeeper knows he's made a mistake. We've got a long way to go and it's important we stick together. It's frustrating because he distributed the game really well tonight. I think there's been good things tonight, I think we played some good football and it's frustrating."
Steve Bruce: "It was a strange goal, a horrible goal to give away, but we showed a little bit of character to get back into the game and in the second half we improved. Make no mistake, we've got a long way to go, I'm sure we'll be better than we were tonight but we've got an interesting few weeks ahead in terms of bringing a few bodies into the club and making that competition healthy again.
"I was pleased with the second half because we upped the tempo, moved the ball a bit quicker, ran a bit quicker. Andre Green and (Rushian) Hepburn-Murphy gave us life just when we needed it, so I'm pleased."
Man of the match - Ahmed Elmohamady
Often played further back last season, Ahmed Elmohamady impressed against his former side on Monday evening, putting his crossing ability on display and popping up in advanced positions, such as the occasion when he shadowed Jonathan Kodjia into the box, only for his team-mate to go for goal himself.
His marauding run into the box was rewarded with his first goal for the club and the Egyptian showed a touch of class when he refused to celebrate in front of the fans who once adored him.
Nigel Adkins takes his Hull side to Hillsborough on Saturday to face Sheffield Wednesday, while Villa host newly-promoted Wigan at Villa Park. Both fixtures get underway at 3pm.