Record-breaking Nikica Jelavic gives Hull hope in relegation battle
Hull City have overturned their struggles at a crucial stage of their season, thanks to in-form forward Nikica Jelavic, who became the club’s all-time Premier League scorer with a vital strike against fellow relegation-battlers QPR.
The Tigers, 4/1 with Coral to be relegated, have climbed to 15th in the domestic league table, after securing important back-to-back victories over bottom half strugglers Aston Villa and Chris Ramsey’s Hoops.
Clinical Croatian centre forward Jelavic has been a key factor in his side’s recent rejuvenation, firing the previously troubled Tigers four points clear of the drop.
Former Everton frontman Jelavic netted his eighth goal of the season to help Hull grab all three points and record a precious 2-1 triumph against 17th-placed QPR, taking his total Tigers tally to 12.
His latest scoring exploits have catapulted him above former fan favourite and Brazilian attacker Geovanni, now heading the team’s top-flight goal charts.
Hull boss Steve Bruce was full of praise for towering target man Jelavic, who he signed from the Toffees for a reported £6.5m.
“When we signed him (last January) he gave everyone a lift,” said Bruce. “He’s a goalscorer with a wonderful attitude. He’s a warrior, an old-fashioned type of individual.”
The 29-year-old has spearheaded Hull’s attack this term, justifying his substantial price-tag with dominant displays and goalscoring heroics.
“That makes him the player that he is. Eight goals is a great return considering he missed a couple of months as well. The goal was great technique.
“When he got injured I don’t think we functioned without the number nine. With him back, and with (Dame) N’Doye alongside him, they’re a handful, which we needed.”
Jelavic opened the scoring against QPR with an excellent volley, before Charlie Austin struck an equaliser just before half-time, and N’Doye captured an 89th-minute winner.
Hull’s latest win earned two consecutive league triumphs for the first this season, with the Tigers having lost just one game this term when their crucial Croatian has netted.
Five of the ferocious forward’s goals have directly contributed to the securing of three points, proving his presence is vital to Hull’s bid to avoid relegation this term.
Bruce’s men are odds-on 1/9 to stay in the Premier League for another season following their recent domestic revival.