Liverpool 2 (Agger 36, Suarez 50)
Hull City 0
There was to be no dream start to 2014 for Hull City as they were beaten 2-0 by Liverpool at Anfield on New Year’s Day.
Although a bright start was made by the Tigers, Liverpool assumed control once Daniel Agger had headed them in front nine minutes before half time, with Luis Suarez wrapping up the points with a fine free kick shortly after the break.
City showed two changes to the side that started in the 6-0 demolition of Fulham as Alex Bruce and David Meyler returned to the starting eleven. Liam Rosenior and George Boyd made way, meaning there was also a switch back to the 3-5-2 system that has served so well this season, particularly in the 3-1 home win against Liverpool a month earlier.
The Tigers started brightly enough with Curtis Davies and Yannick Sagbo almost working an opening on the edge of the Liverpool box after James Chester’s free kick had been delivered deep into home territory.
Jake Livermore and Robert Koren then combined well to set up a shooting chance for Sagbo just inside the Liverpool area but the striker saw his effort fly into the Kop.
A timely intervention from Bruce had City on the counter-attack in the 15th minute as they swept quickly upfield. Livermore fed Koren to his left but with the home defence recovering their positions, the midfielder saw a shot deflect into the hands of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
That moment seemed to stir the home side from their slumber and Luis Suarez thought he had headed a 19th-minute opener only for the offside flag to cut short the celebrations.
Suarez then got Bruce into the referee’s notebook with the resulting free kick from Philippe Coutinho being held by Allan McGregor.
Iago Aspas saw a shot fly over the bar before Raheem Sterling had the best chance of the opening half-hour after being sent clear by a Suarez nod-down. Racing into the City box, the winger took his time before looking to pick his spot, only for McGregor to stand tall and block the effort.
Liverpool had assumed control and they took the lead on 36 minutes. Daniel Agger met a corner with a firm downward header and despite the presence of a defender on the far post, the ball found the back of the net.
Suarez was booked for a challenge on Davies but the home side should have doubled their lead in added time. With Suarez rolling around on the floor, the referee allowed play to continue with Aspa teeing up Jordan Henderson, but he side-footed wide from a good position.
Half Time: Hull City 0-1 Liverpool
It didn’t take long for the home side to double their lead after the break and effectively end the game as a contest.
Chester’s foul on Suarez gave Liverpool a free kick 20 yards out and the striker picked himself up to curl a fine effort over the wall and into McGregor’s net.
The introductions of Matty Fryatt, Boyd and Danny Graham did at least pep up the City attack and led to the away team’s best spell of the game.
Davies and Livermore both saw efforts fly wide while Fryatt’s willing running earned his side a couple of corners, but Liverpool’s defence stood firm.
At the other end, McGregor was in action to keep out two fine Coutinho efforts and he also denied the Brazilian what would have been a fine individual effort in added time.
Hull City: Allan McGregor, Ahmed Elmohamady, James Chester, Alex Bruce, Curtis Davies, Maynor Figueroa, David Meyler (George Boyd 58), Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore, Robert Koren (Danny Graham 58), Yannick Sagbo (Matty Fryatt 58).
Subs Not Used: Steve Harper, Liam Rosenior, Abdoulaye Faye, Stephen Quinn.
Liverpool: Simon Mignolet, Glen Johnson (Kolo Toure 55), Mamadou Cissokho, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Lucas, Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho, Iago Aspas (Steven Gerrard 62), Raheem Sterling (Victor Moses 76), Luis Suarez.
Subs Not Used: Brad Jones, Jordan Rossiter, Martin Kelly, Luis Alberto.
Referee: Mr C. Pawson.