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Champions Leicester fail to get out of the blocks

Hull City 2:1 Leicester City

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Hull Held

Hull City 0:0 Leicester City

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Leicester earned a deserved point at the KC Stadium with a tight and hard-working defensive performance in a match that neither side did enough to merit all 3 points…

Nigel Pearson made his intentions clear before kick-off when he recalled James in place of the injured Vardy and left his other striking options on the bench. This left David Nugent as the solitary striker ably supported from midfield by King, Marshall and Knockaert who got forward whenever possible.
City, as in previous matches recently, began brightly and for 20 minutes they played with confidence and control. Knockaert saw several long range efforts drift just wide before Drinkwater’s goal-bound strike was blocked by the outstretched hand of Jakupovic in the Hull goal.
When the Swiss keeper repeated his heroics a few minutes later, just keeping out another swerving Knockaert shot, it looked as if it wasn’t going to be City’s day.
Hull finally got in to the game in the period leading up to half time and created pressure and chances; Faye planted a free header wide from a corner, Simpson was put through by Koren and rounded Schmeichel only for De Laet to arrive from nowhere to clear the ball off of the line and then Aluko brought a superb, low save out of Schmeichel with a well-struck shot.

The second half was less compelling as a midfield slog developed in the pouring rain. As the game settled in to a stalemate it City almost broke the deadlock when Faye sliced Moore’s cross wide of his own post much to the relief of the, now subdued, home support. City also came close when Waghorn and Knockaert combined beautifully in a rare moment of class, to set up Marshall for a fierce shot that was saved low down by Jakupovic.
The Hull ‘keeper had to be at his best again when he somehow kept out Gallagher’s dipping free-kick; it was Gallagher’s first touch having just come on. In between these efforts Simpson brought another fine save from Schmeichel.

The final whistle brought an unsatisfactory conclusion to the match with both sets of fans and managers declaring their contentment with a point but both knowing that a bit more ambition could have yielded all three. The bare statistics show that City have now taken just 3 points from a possible 12 and have failed to score since the 2-2 draw with Barnsley on Dec 8th.
Despite this dip in form City are still fifth but fans, management and players alike all know that there has to be an improvement in results soon if we are to be regarded as serious promotion contenders.

Hull: Jakupovic, Chester, Faye (Proschwitz 84), Hobbs, Elmohamady, Koren, Evans (Cairney 71), Quinn, Brady, Simpson, Aluko (Rosenior 84). Unused Subs: Amos, Mclean, McShane, Olofinjana.
Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet (Moore 46), Morgan, Whitbread, Konchesky, King (Gallagher 82), Drinkwater, James, Knockaert, Nugent (Waghorn 65), Marshall. Unused Subs: Dyer, Logan, Schlupp, Futacs.
Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire). Attendance: 20,321.
 

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Tigers Earn Payback

Revenge was sweet for Hull City at the KC Stadium on Saturday as they finally managed wear down ten man Leicester’s resistance with a later winner…

Although Nigel Pearson dubbed it: “just another game.” the Hull City fans took the opportunity to give the man who had left them 18 days previously both barrells.
Pearson, presumably knowing the opposition better than anyone, made one change to his side with Danns in for Gallagher.
It was an industrial opening half hour with more heat than light created. City’s final pass often went astray with Wellens looking out of sorts, and Hull posed an increasing threat towards Schmeichel’s goal.
Nugent broke through once and sent a shot narrowly wide, before a Koren effort flashed across goal.
Then came a game-changing incident on the half hour. Mclean ran on to a loose ball in the area and had a shot blocked by Mills, but the City skipper then flicked a boot out tripping him as he lined up for a second attempt from close in. Mills was dismissed for the second time this season, and Fryatt converted the spot kick past Schmeichel. Although this caused outrage in the away end at the opposite end of the ground, it was the correct decision.
Pearson, with gleeful taunts ringing in his ears, immediately brought St Ledger on for Beckford.
Ten man City battled on and gained their reward five minutes before the break. Nugent broke clear of the defence but fired his shot straight at Tigers keeper Gulacsi. Konchesky was on hand to curl a superbly judged shot round the keeper and just inside the right hand post. 

City were always going to be up against it in the second half but seemed to be winning the battle of attrition with just two minutes on the clock.
Schmeichel had made a near post save from Stewart as Hull pushed forward using the flanks; and then produced a third world class save in as many games to tip a shot from Dawson round the post.
With Gallagher on his own up front City made little impression going forward, but looked to have held on to a point until two minutes from time. That was when Rosenior squared a ball which Koren met with a sweetly timed run and excellent strike, giving Scmeichel no chance and raising the roof of the KC Stadium.
Revenge was sweet for the delighted Hull fans as Nigel Pearson was left to contemplete the first defeat of his second tenure… “The application of players was very good in terms of dealing with adversity. I have seen some positives. The thing about today is that it is always tough to concede late goals. We came unstuck with what was a very good goal.”

Hull: Gulacsi, Rosenior,Chester,Hobbs, Dawson, Evans (Dudgeon 87), McKenna, Koren, Mclean, Stewart, Fryatt. Unused Subs: Basso, Cairney, McShane, Adebola.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Peltier, Mills, Bamba, Konchesky, Danns (Gallagher 63), King, Wellens, Dyer, Beckford (St Ledger 30), Nugent (Fernandes 68). Unused Subs: Weale, Howard.
Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire). Attendance: 20,148.

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