Hull City returned to the English Premier League in grand fashion on Saturday, upsetting defending league champions Leicester City 2-1 at the KC Stadium.
Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri, who was left searching for answers, told reporters after the match that Hull simply played better than the title holders.
Adama Diomande gave the Tigers the lead just before halftime, with a bizarre strike that saw himself and Abel Hernandez almost simultaneously fire the ball back into the net. The pair each attempted an acrobatic strike and it was judged to have been Diomande who got the greater connection with the ball.
The unusual effort was cancelled out only moments into the second half however, as a foul by Tom Huddlestone resulted a penalty kick to the Foxes. Last season’s PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez slotted home the equaliser and Leicester appeared poised to get themselves in the driver seat of what was a very physical match.
However, on the opening day of a new season the league champions were not on top of their game and a mistake from goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel gifted Hull a second goal that ultimately proved to be the match winner.
Gaining possession from a poor throw from Schmeichel, midfielder Ahmed Elmohamady found Scottish international Robert Snodgrass, who fired home convincingly to give the Tigers a 2-1 advantage.
Hull goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic made 4 saves on the day and centre-backs Jake Livermore and Curtis Davies turned in excellent performances to help their team return with three points in hand at the very start of the new season.
Defending champions Leicester will have to work on finishing their chances and will need to do so fast in order bounce back quickly for next week’s difficult home fixture against Arsenal.
With a home victory already in hand, Hull City will be keen on cementing their place in the top flight early with an away result at Swansea City this coming Saturday.
Hull City Display Their Competitive Spirit
Caretaker manager Mike Phelan did a fantastic job of preparing Hull for their opening match, after the club won back promotion to the English Premier League last season under Steve Bruce. Strong defensive work from a makeshift back-line allowed their 4-3-3 formation to get forward and put pressure on Leicester which they maintained throughout the match.
Snodgrass, Hernandez and Diomande created all sorts of problems for the Foxes’ defence throughout the game. After witnessing their team perform well on the big stage, Hull City supporters can dream for a stellar season ahead.
Leicester Rue Missed Chances for Goals
With many of the usual faces from last season’s title-winning squad in the lineup, Leicester were still unable to find the back of the net when needed, despite many opportunities.
Jamie Vardy, Shinji Okazaki and Riyad Mahrez were unable to convert multiple chances in the second half.
Suspended defender Robert Huth saw his presence sorely missed at the back, as replacement CB Luis Hernandez struggled with positioning on various occasions throughout the match.
Ranieri will look to have his side better prepared for Saturday’s home opener at the King Power Stadium.
How Much Will Leicester Miss Kante in the Midfield?
Midfielders Andy King and Danny Drinkwater worked hard in the middle of Leicester’s lineup, both patrolling in defence and getting the attack moving forward. Unfortunately, quality scoring chances did not come with great regularity.
Last season, N’Golo Kante was often able to handle the defensive midfield assignments on his own, allowing other players to play higher up the pitch.
Will Ranieri find a suitable solution? Or will there be a change in tactics from the 4-4-2 formation? We still await the debut of new-signing Nampalys Mendy who could well be used as Kante’s long-term replacement.
The Italian manager has the coming week to find the best possible game plan moving forward.