Hull City claimed another excellent point on the road as they held Liverpool to a 0-0 draw on Saturday.
Following on from last weekend’s draw at Arsenal, a stubborn display from the Tigers at Anfield frustrated their opponents throughout, with a manful defensive display backed up by a hard-working midfield and a hard-running front man. And there was no shortage of quality from Steve Bruce’s side who had chances of their own, especially late in the first half when some scheming and quality from Hatem Ben Arfa almost brought reward.
Injuries forced Bruce into making three changes to his starting eleven as Eldin Jakupovic, Alex Bruce and Robbie Brady came in for Steve Harper, Michael Dawson and Andrew Robertson. Tom Huddlestone was fit to take his position in the side despite fitness concerns during the build-up.
City enjoyed some bright moments during the early stages. The first came at the end of a lovely passing move which saw Tom Huddlestone switch play from left to right with a fine long-range pass, Ahmed Elmohamady delivering it first time into the box only for the ball to be cleared at the near post.
The next saw Ben Arfa carry the ball from halfway to the edge of the Liverpool box before slipping a pass right for Elmohamady. This time, the Egyptian looked to pull the ball back to the edge of the box, but again it was cut out by the defence.
Brady survived a penalty appeal eight minutes in when Raheem Sterling went down under a challenge just inside the area, the referee waving play on.
Good defensive organisation from the Tigers helped maintain parity on ten minutes when Elmohamady guarded his post to clear Dejan Loveren’s header off the line after the defender had got on the end of Steve Gerrard’s corner.
Jakupovic made a good save at his near post to keep out Mario Balotelli’s powerful shot to the near post before the game settled down with City more than holding their own in the midfield battle.
The only real moment of concern was self-inflicted as James Chester’s back-pass almost fell short with Mario Balotelli sniffing a mistake, but Jakupovic was quickly off his line to clear the danger.
Huddlestone picked up a yellow card for a challenge on Emre Can before City went on to dominate the closing stages of the half.
With three minutes remaining, Ben Arfa picked up possession and glided his way past two defenders to reach the byeline and although he lost his footing, he still managed to cut the ball back for Jake Livermore, who saw his shot fly straight at Simon Mignolet.
More good play from Ben Arfa and then Huddlestone helped to set up a shooting chance for Mohamed Diame only for the Senegal man to fire wide before Huddlestone saw a 30-yarder deflected past the post.
Half Time: Liverpool 0-0 Hull City
The referee’s yellow card was on overtime early in the second half as Ben Arfa, Raheem Sterling and Balotelli all found their way into the book in quick succession.
The first real chance of the second half came City’s way when Abel Hernandez showed neat control before turning quickly and getting a shot away from 20 yards which Mignolet saved.
Steve Gerrard then fired wide from a good position before Brady was brave to deny Balotelli what would have been a simple finish after Can’s near-post flick from Gerrard’s corner had carried through to the far post. Brady threw himself in the way to divert the ball away from goal before Jakupovic did well to save Sterling’s follow-up.
Sone Aluko and Gaston Ramirez were introduced from the bench in place of Ben Arfa and Hernandez and it was Aluko who went the closest to winning it for the Tigers with a powerful, swerving 20-yard shot which Mignolet had to watch all the way into his gloves.
Liverpool made changes, too, with Philippe Coutinho and Rickie Lambert coming on and they gave the home side more of an attacking edge as they piled on the pressure in the closing stages.
Their desperation for a goal was maybe a little too much as another substitute, Jordan Henderson, was booked for diving after going down too easily under Diame’s challenge inside the box.
Coutinho headed a good chance over at the back stick from Gerrard’s cross and with David Meyler now on for the tiring Diame, City were set-up to repel everything the home side could muster.
The defence stood firm to deny Gerrard after he burst into the box during an eventful four minutes of added time which also saw Jakupovic scramble a near-post effort behind and tip over Coutinho’s long-range effort to earn a first top flight clean sheet.
There was one last chance for Liverpool after Coutinho danced his way down the left before crossing for Balotelli, who failed to apply the finishing touch.
A late goal would have been cruel on the Tigers, who did their loud band of travelling supporters proud.
Hull City: Eldin Jakupovic, Alex Bruce, James Chester, Curtis Davies, Tom Huddlestone, Abel Hernandez (Gaston Ramirez 71), Robbie Brady, Jake Livermore, Mohamed Diame (David Meyler 86), Ahmed Elmohamady, Hatem Ben Arfa (Sone Aluko 71).
Subs Not Used: Rory Watson, Liam Rosenior, David Meyler, Paul McShane, Stephen Quinn.
Liverpool: Simon Mignolet, Dejan Lovren, Steven Gerrard, Alberto Moreno, Javier Manquillo, Adam Lallana (Rickie Lambert 61), Emre Can (Jordan Henderson 75), Joe Allen (Philippe Coutinho 61), Raheem Sterling, Martin Skrtel, Mario Balotelli.
Subs Not Used: Brad Jones, Glen Johnson, Kolo Toure, Lazar Markovic.
Referee: Mr N. Swarbrick.