Too late for Tigers: Hull relegated after holding Man Utd to draw
Hull City fans were left holding their heads in their hands as the Tigers, who put in a tenacious and determined display against Manchester United to draw 0-0, were relegated to the Championship.
For relegation rivals Newcastle United it was mission accomplished at St James’ Park with a 2-0 win against West Ham United, but Steve Bruce’s side could not break through the Red Devils’ rearguard, no matter how much they huffed and puffed.
The dramatic and eventful duel certainly lived up to it’s billing, and Hull were quick out of the blocks as mercurial midfielder Tom Huddlestone bypassed United’s backline with an inch perfect pass to pick out Egypt international Ahmed Elmohamady, though Nikica Jelavic could not reach his subsequent cross.
It took 17 minutes for the excellent Roby Brady to fluster his former club, as stand-in stopper Victor Valdes fumbled the Irishman’s curling cross into the path of another Red Devils academy product in Paul McShane, who poked it over the line only to be ruled offside.
Just moments later, Brady was back to cause havoc again, as his whipped delivery was met with menace by Elmohamady, whose bullet header was saved superbly by a slightly redeemed Valdes.
Stephen Quinn then managed to get off a shot through a crowded box to beat United’s slightly rusty stopper, but the Tigers again fell foul of the offside flag, on what was a frustrating afternoon in which the team created plenty of opportunities but were, once again, ultimately toothless.
With only pride to play for as Arsenal demolished West Bromwich Albion, Man Utd were cool and composed in possession but provided little incisive attacking play, with their best chances before the break an early Wayne Rooney shot that hit the cross-bar and Ander Herrera’s mistimed lunge for a loose ball.
In the second half, United began the brighter with Spanish schemers Juan Mata and Herrera’s interplay carving out several openings, though the visitors failed to capitalise.
Valdes was again the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons during a 60th minute scramble in the box, as the ex-Barcelona keeper missed his punch, but unlucky Hull could still not break the deadlock, with dangerman Dame N’Doye also missing an ambitious volley.
Two contentious incidents then threatened to sour an otherwise hard-fought and enthralling match, as substitute Abel Hernandez appeared to punch Phil Jones in the stomach, although it was missed by the referee, before fellow sub Marouane Fellaini saw red around the 76th minute.
Impressive McShane beat the Belgian to the ball, and Fellaini’s poor follow-through saw the defender needing bandages for both thigh and head, though he carried on bravely as the Man Utd man headed for an early bath.
Hull had one final chance put on a plate for them, though Hernandez unbelievably fluffed Elmohamady’s dangerous delivery, but the writing was already on the wall.
It just wasn’t to be the Tigers’ day, as news of a second Newcastle goal filtered through, though the fervent KC Stadium faithful, decked out in orange and black stripes, did not let relegation damper their side’s spirits and gave the team a fantastic end of term send-off.
Whether boss Bruce and Hull decide to part ways remains to be seen, as the Championship beckons, but the Tigers certainly put in a proud performance as they slipped out of the Premier League with, if not a bang, certainly not a whimper.