Premier League: Blow for Reds as Hull stride nearer safety

 
Ross McLean
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Former Tottenham defender Michael Dawson scored the winner as Hull beat Liverpool last night
HULL CITY 1 LIVERPOOL 0

LIVERPOOL boss Brendan Rodgers bemoaned his side’s lack of firepower as their stuttering and increasingly improbable pursuit of a Champions League place wilted further with defeat at relegation-haunted Hull last night.

Former Tottenham skipper Michael Dawson proved the match-winner with a first-half header, a goal which elevated Hull above Aston Villa into 15th place in the Premier League, four points clear of the drop zone.

The Reds remain seven points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester United although their game in hand has now disappeared, leaving just four games to snatch an unlikely second successive season in Europe’s elite club competition.

Rodgers chose much-maligned Italian striker Mario Balotelli to spearhead the Liverpool attack but his team once again displayed a lack of potency, despite having 12 shots on goal during the contest.

“We lacked that killer instinct in the final third. We were never a threat. It’s been a mark of the season really, in that final third we have struggled,” said Rodgers, whose side have claimed just four points from their last five league matches.

“Our fight is to perform better through to the end of the season. It was always going to be difficult for us. The opportunity was tough this year in terms of where we were at as a team.”

Hull stormed into the lead eight minutes before the break when their captain Dawson ghosted into the Liverpool penalty area unmarked to meet Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross and loop a header over keeper Simon Mignolet.

Victory for the Tigers was only their second in 20 competitive matches against the Reds but more crucially it was a second win on the spin following success at Crystal Palace on Saturday. It was also Hull’s first back-to-back clean sheet since October 2013.

Steve Bruce’s side are now within three points of their best ever Premier League points tally of 37, although still face a daunting run-in with fixtures against Arsenal, fellow strugglers Burnley, Tottenham and Manchester United to come.

“It’s a great victory, make no bones about it, but we have still got a bit to do, I don’t think 34 points is enough,” added Bruce. “We have given ourselves an outstanding chance but that is all it is.”