At the end of a week when Hull City’s ability, or inability, to hold onto a lead has been questioned, it was their capability to come from behind which almost created the headlines against Manchester City at the KC Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Trailing 2-0 inside the opening 11 minutes after a red-hot start from their visitors, the Tigers fought back valiantly to level just after the half-hour mark before the extra quality of the reigning Barclays Premier League Champions eventually told after the break.
Steve Bruce made just one change to the side that started at Newcastle the previous weekend as Liam Rosenior came in for Stephen Quinn who dropped to the bench. Sticking with a 4-4-2 formation, Rosenior played at right back with Ahmed Elmohamady pushing forward onto the wing.
Manchester City were quick out of the blocks with Sergio Aguero forcing a save out of Allan McGregor at his near post after just 51 seconds, but it really should have been the home side that took the lead in the sixth minute when Nikica Jelavic should have done better after a fine ball in from Jake Livermore on the left.
Bruce’s men were made to pay less than 60 seconds later as Manchester City hit the front. Edin Dzeko saw a shot blocked inside the area, but when the ball eventually fell to the feet of Aguero, he game McGregor no chance with a smart right-footed finish into the far corner of the net.
It was 2-0 just four minutes later. David Silva played the ball to Dzeko, who took aim from 25 yards and found the top corner.
The Tigers looked shell-shocked, but to their credit they were back in the game ten minutes later. Rosenior tore past Gael Clichy on the right before his cross to the near post tempted visiting defender Eliaquim Mangala to make an intervention, an intervention that sent the ball flying into his own net.
Aguero shot narrowly wide as he looked to restore his side’s two-goal advantage before more impressive play from Rosenior saw him get past Clichy again before his promising pull-back was snuffed out on the six-yard line.
The Tigers didn’t have to wait too much longer for an equaliser. Abel Hernandez and Mohamed Diame combined to good effect around the edge of the Manchester City box and when Diame’s pass looked to pick out Hernandez inside the area, the striker was barged over by Mangala. The referee pointed to the spot straight away before booking Mangala, and Hernandez cooly slotted home the penalty for his second goal in as many home games.
Bruce’s side were now harassing their opponents and giving them little time to settle, reminiscent of the recipe for success of last season. Yaya Toure was rushed into sending a shot high over the bar and Dzeko headed over from a James Milner cross, before Hernandez saw a header saved by Willy Caballero at the other end.
Half Time: Hull City 2-2 Manchester City
Tom Huddlestone opened the second half with a shot that was just about dealt with by Caballero before Hernandez and Jelavic almost combined to devastating effect, but the final through ball to Jelavic was snuffed out.
Toure hit the woodwork with a 25-yard drive on 50 minutes as the visitors set about lifting their tempo and it worked for them as they went back in front on 68 minutes. Working the ball from right to left, they eventually found the overlap as Silva played in Dzeko to slide the ball into the far corner, a shot that agonisingly beyond McGregor’s reach.
Bruce threw on Hatem Ben Arfa and Gaston Ramirez as they looked to respond once again and it was Ramirez who almost brought the Tigers level with a powerful drive from fellow substitute Robbie Brady’s pull-back, before Huddlestone saw his effort from 20 yards deflect just over the bar.
Searching for a leveller, the Tigers were eventually caught on the counter-attack and when Pablo Zabaleta found himself in acres of space on the right edge of the box, he squared for Frank Lampard to fire home despite the best efforts of Rosenior on the line.
It was perhaps a harsh scoreline on the Tigers, but they’ll take plenty of positives from it heading into next weekend’s big home game against Crystal Palace.
Hull City: Allan McGregor, Liam Rosenior, Curtis Davies, Tom Huddlestone, Abel Hernandez (Gaston Ramirez 73), Jake Livermore (Hatem Ben Arfa 73), Mohamed Diame, Nikica Jelavic, Michael Dawson, Andrew Robertson (Robbie Brady 82), Ahmed Elmohamady.
Subs Not Used: Steve Harper, Alex Bruce, James Chester, Stephen Quinn.
Manchester City: Wilfredo Caballero, Vincent Kompany, Eliaquim Mangala, Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy, James Milner, Fernandinho (Jesus Navas 65), Yaya Toure, David Silva (Martin Demichelis 77), Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero (Frank Lampard 71).
Subs Not Used: Joe Hart, Bacary Sagna, Aleksandar Kolarov, Jose Pozo.
Referee: Mr A. Taylor.
Attendance: 22,859 (2,580 Visiting Supporters).