Hull City 2:1 Leicester City
City started the defence of their title with a disappointing defeat against Hull at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday, despite Riyad Mahrez equalising from the spot…
Hull were manager-less, favourites to go down, had spent nothing on players, only had 13 fit players, and the fans were protesting… it all seemed too good to be true for City’s first game, and it was.
Claudio Ranieri made three changes to the starting line up at Wembley, with Gray in and Musa and Hernandez making their Premier League debuts.
City had the first chance of the game in the third minute, when Gray pushed forward from midfield and hit a long-range effort that took a looping deflection onto the roof of the net.
Three minutes later Hull threatened Schmeichel’s goal, Davies flicking a near post header narrowly wide of the far post from a Snodgrass corner.
Gray then found himself in a good position from a Fuchs long-throw but wildly sliced his shot.
In the 20th minute, a good run and cut back by Musa on the left set up Vardy beautifully, but the Engand striker produced an airshot. The ball ran through to Mahrez, who side-stepped one defender in the area, but then fired wide.
In a strong spell up to the break for City, several chances came and went.
Mahrez battled through two defenders down the right and pulled a ball back for Drinkwater who curled a shot inches wide wide of the left hand post.
Fuchs went on a run down the left and played balls off Gray and then Musa,before bearing down on goal, but Jakupovic came out well to block his prodded effort. Vardy followed up but saw his shot blocked by Livermore; and Mahrez seized on the loose ball and went round a couple of defenders but sent his shot just wide.
Musa then pounced on a stray pass from Diomande and raced past Davies, before setting up Vardy, who miscued his shot over the bar.
City were to pay for those missed chances just seconds before the half time whistle when the Tigers took the lead with a bizarre goal. Davies got his head to a Snodgrass corner, but Schmeichel managed to parry it away to his left. As the loose ball bounced up to head height both Hernandez and Diomande attempted acrobatic efforts. Both connected, but the latter appeared to get the final touch as the ball found the net via the bar.
City were soon on level terms after the break, however, when referee Mike Dean ruled that Huddlestone treading on Gray’s heel had occurred inside the area, though replays indicated it was at least two feet outside. Mahrez rattled his penalty kick straight down the middle and the Champions were back on track.
However, the script went awry again ten minutes later. A hurried throw-out from Schmeichel conceded possession, and a swift move down the right saw a probing cross from Elmohamady that was only half cleared by Simpson. The ball sat up nicely for Snodgrass to fire an unstoppable half-volley just inside the right hand post.
With City struggling to get past a dogged Hull back-line Claudio Ranieri made a couple of changes in the 68 minute with Okazaki and Amartey replacing Gray and King.
Okazaki introduced a bit of the zip and tempo from last season that appeared to be lacking in this game, and one charge down the middle saw him upended by Davies.
Mahrez delivered a decent free-kick round the wall, but Jakupovic got down well to tip it round the post.
Hull were very well organised in defence of their lead by this stage and City were looking strangely flat. Okazaki hit one long range effort well over the bar.
On the home side’s rare ventures upfield they looked more threatening and more cunning. From a free-kick on the right Snodgrass tried to catch Schmeichel out with a shot towards the near post. Fortunately the City keeper was alert to the danger.
City eventually ran out of ideas and steam and couldn’t launch a concerted bid for an equaliser, even during 5 minutes injury time.
Caretaker manager Mike Phelan and his side, with Snodgrass inspired, had done a magnificent job on the Champions. City became the first title-defending club to lose their first game of the season since 1989.
Claudio Ranieri commented: “We know very well that last season was something special. Now we have to get back with our feet on the ground and we have to work hard. When I said ’40 points’ a lot of people were laughing but it’s true. We have to restart, forget we are the champions and improve as a team. The players made a big effort but as individuals not as a team. We scored a goal, created good chances and we were unlucky – those are positive things. The negatives were that they were smarter and we have to concentrate for 90 minutes always.”
Hull: Jakupovic, Robertson, Davies, Meyler, Huddlestone, Hernandez, Snodgrass, Clucas, Livermore, Diomande, Elmohamady. Subs Not Used: Kuciak, Maloney, Tymon, Bowen, Luer, Olley, Clackstone.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson (Ulloa 84), Hernandez, Morgan, Fuchs, Drinkwater, King (Amartey 68), Mahrez, Gray (Okazaki 68), Musa, Vardy. Subs Not Used: Zieler, Chilwell, Albrighton, Kapustka.
Referee: M Dean. Attendance: 20,137.
PHOTOS: Simon Kimber
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