The Tigers are through to the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final.
Despite losing 2-0 to Derby County in the second leg of their semi-final at the KC Stadium, Steve Bruce’s side progressed with a 3-2 aggregate victory.
Typical Tigers, it wasn’t easy. Going into the second leg with a commanding 3-0 lead, there were nerves from as early as the seventh minute when Johnny Russell opened the scoring for Derby and when Andrew Robertson put through his own net before half time the tension in the ground was almost unbearable.
Derby had the chance to level matters with a golden close-range chance early in the second half, but after that passed by the Tigers got to grips with the task in hand and made it across the line with their hopes of an immediate return to the Premier League still intact.
Unsurprisingly, Bruce named the same starting eleven that earned such an impressive result at the iPro Stadium at the weekend. The only change in the squad came on the bench where David Meyler came in for Sone Aluko.
As expected, Derby started at a quick pace with Russell shooting over the bar in the sixth minute.
The Derby midfielder made no mistake with his next chance a minute later. Cyrus Christie’s powerful run down the right brought a deep cross to the far post where Chris Martin nodded back across goal. Russell saw his first effort blocked, but he was alert enough to get to the loose ball and finish from close range.
Moses Odubajo’s cross from the right was just too high for Mohamed Diame in the middle as the Tigers looked for the goal that would effectively kill the tie, but in truth the game was being played almost exclusively in the home side’s half of the field.
Russell curled a free kick just wide from the edge of the box before Jeff Hendrick sent a looping volley over the bar from distance.
Robert Snodgrass was booked for a late challenge on Craig Bryson as the Tigers looked to spark themselves into life and that almost happened through Jake Livermore’s deflected low shot that whistled just wide.
Livermore was then booked for a foul on Martin right on the edge of the Tigers’ box, the resulting free kick well blocked by the defensive wall before Bryson fired a return effort inches wide.
Diame fired wide at the other end after breaking from midfield, but the nerves inside the KC were really jangling when Derby doubled their lead on the night, a brilliant low ball in from the left was almost impossible for Robertson to defend inside his own six-yard box and he could only divert in past Eldin Jakupovic.
Odubajo saw a shot deflect over the bar and had appeals for a penalty turned down shortly before the break, but it was Derby straight back on the front foot after half time and their golden chance to level the tie on aggregate came just three minutes in when another brilliant low ball from the left found Hendrick but he couldn’t turn it goalwards when under pressure from Curtis Davies.
A Martin free kick was well blocked by Michael Dawson after Odubajo had been booked for a foul on the edge of his own area but from that point onwards, the Derby attack was well marshalled and controlled by the Tigers’ back line.
Meyler was introduced in place of Tom Huddlestone to add a bit more bite to the midfield, while former Tiger Tom Ince came off the Derby bench and almost found himself through on goal within minutes, but Dawson was there with a well-timed challenge.
Will Hughes fired over the bar from 25 yards and Jakupovic saved from Martin as Derby went in desperate search of the goal that would take the tie to extra time but it was the Tigers who almost found the net through Snodgrass, but his powerful free kick was beaten away by Scott Carson.
Derby threw men forward late on, including goalkeeper Carson for a last-minute corner, but the Tigers just about held firm to book their place in the Wembley final with a 3-2 aggregate win.
Hull City: Eldin Jakupovic, Moses Odubajo, Curtis Davies, Tom Huddlestone (David Meyler 51), Abel Hernandez, Robert Snodgrass (Harry Maguire 90), Jake Livermore, Mohamed Diame (Sam Clucas 90), Michael Dawson, Andrew Robertson, Ahmed Elmohamady.
Subs Not Used: Dusan Kuciak, Alex Bruce, Shaun Maloney, Chuba Akpom.
Derby County: Scott Carson, Cyrus Christie, Craig Bryson, Richard Keogh, Jeff Hendrick, Chris Martin, Johnny Russell (Darren Bent 83), Jason Shackell, Will Hughes, Andreas Weimann (Tom Ince 60), Marcus Olsson (Abdoul Camara 90).
Subs Not Used: Lee Grant, Jake Buxton, Bradley Johnson, Jacob Butterfield.
Referee: Mr M. Oliver.
Attendance: 20,470 (2,309 Visiting Supporters).