Premier League, KCOM Stadium – Hull City 2 (A Diomande 45, Snodgrass) Leicester City 1 (Mahrez 47).
Hull City shocked champions Leicester City in the opening match of the new Premier League season with a 2-1 win.
The newly promoted team, who started the season with only 13 fit senior players, outplayed Claudio Ranieri‘s men to take three points and go top of the table ahead of the 3pm games.
Adama Diomande scored the opening goal just before half-time with an outstanding overhead kick, a goal that may well make the Question of Sport “What Happened Next” round in the future, a as Abel Hernandez attempted his own scissor-kick alongside his striking partner in a routine that would not have looked out of place in the synchronised swimming event at Rio.
But, just 15 seconds into the second half, Claudio Ranieri’s side were thrown a lifeline when referee Mike Dean ruled that Tom Huddlestone had fouled Demarai Gray just inside the penalty area.
It seemed a soft penalty, but under the harsh new Premier League rules on dissent, the Hull players did not dare to protest the referee’s decision too vociferously.
Riyad Mahrez coolly dispatched the spot-kick, but those Leicester fans expecting their side to kick on for all three points were to be disappointed.
Hull, who came up through the Championship play-offs last May, clinched the win on 57 minutes as Robert Snodgrass volleyed home into the bottom right corner after Leicester only half-cleared Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross from the right.
TALKING POINT: Can Hull City upset the odds this season?
Bookmakers were offering 10/1 before the start of the season on Hull breaking Derby County’s 2007-8 record and posting the lowest points total in Premier League history. They seemed a good bet to take that unwanted record off the Rams, who won just 11 points from their 38 matches.
The Tigers began the season with a threadbare squad, a caretaker manager and with their owner Assem Allam ill and keen to sell the club. The players were also met before the match with a fan protest against the owner’s son Ehab Allam and his newly-instated policy of doing away with concession tickets for OAPs and juniors.
Yet, on the field, Hull were superb against the Premier League champions, with Clucas immense in midfield and Jake Livermore impressing in an unfamiliar centre-back role. If they continue to play with such heart in the remaining 37 matches, they may be OK.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Sam Clucas (Hull City) The talk before the match was all about how Leicester would cope without N’Golo Kante in the holding role, following the Frenchman’s summer move to Chelsea. But with only 13 fit senior players, Tigers’ caretaker boss Mike Phelan was scrambling around for a defensive player of his own ahead of the game against the Premier League champions. Former Chesterfield left-winger Clucas stepped in, and produced a Kante-like performance at the base of the Hull midfield.
The orange-booted, orange-haired Clucas, 25, may have stirred a memory or two among Leicester City fans of an older vintage – the Lincoln-born player came up through the youth ranks at the King Power Stadium but never played a senior game for the Foxes.
25′ – CHANCE! Drinkwater sees an effort drift just wide following another Leicester break from Mahrez and a drag back cross from the right touchline.
41′ – SAVE! Livermore blocks from Vardy, following a run and shot from Fuchs, then Mahrez misses the follow-up effort from close range. Best chance of the game so far.
43′ – CHANCE! Vardy shoots over from close range after being set up by an unselfish pass from Musa, after the former CSKA Moscow striker had taken advantage of a Diomande error.
45 +1′ – GOAL! Hull City 1-0 Leicester City. Hernandez nets from an overhead kick, in off the crossbar, following a good initial save from Schmeichel from Davies’ initial header.
46′ – PENALTY! Tom Huddlestone treads on Gray in the box and Leicester have a penalty within 15 seconds of the restart.
48′ – GOAL! Hull City 1-1 Leicester City. Mahrez slams the penalty past Jakupovic and down the centre and the champions are level!
56′ – GOAL! Hull City 2-1 Leicester City. Snodgrass gives Hull the lead for a second time, with a left footed volley into the bottom corner from Elmohamady’s deflected cross.
70′ – SAVE! Jakupovic scrambles across his goal to keep out Mahrez’s free-kick and the Swiss concedes the corner.
Hull City: Jakupovic 6, Elmohamady 7, Davies 7, Livermore 6, Robertson 6, Huddlestone 6, Snodgrass 7, Meyler 7, Clucas 8, Hernandez 7, Diomande 7.
Leicester City: Schmeichel 6, Simpson 5, Hernandez 6, Morgan 6, Fuchs 6, Mahrez 6, King 6, Drinkwater 6, Gray 7, Musa 7, Vardy 6. Subs: Amartey 6, Okazaki 6, Ulloa 6.
Hull City’s win is their first in six Premier League matches against Leicester City.
Leicester City become the first defending champions in the Premier League era to lose their opening match of the season.