Breaking new ground: How ten-man Hull City overcome odds to reach semi-finals of EFL Cup

The Hull City players celebrate following the third penalty miss in the shoot-out (Photo: PA)
The Hull City players celebrate following the third penalty miss in the shoot-out (Photo: PA)
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THE HOME crowd was sparse in number and chilled to the bone on a raw evening.

But those Tigers diehards present witnessed a sweet piece of club history to leave them with a decidedly warm glow at the game’s conclusion.

The strength that Hull showed during the adversity of early season was wonderfully reprised as they showed a fighter’s heart to shrug off the 89th-minute dismissal of Dieumerci Mbokani to clinch a place in the semi-finals of the League Cup for the first time in the competition’s 56-year history.

Hull showed commendable bottle and resolve in the extra half-hour and during the lottery of penalties to prevail 3-1 sduring the latter, while their nerve-shredded Newcastle counterparts withered.

The seasoned trio of Robert Snodgrass – who had quickly cancelled out a 98th-minute opener from Mo Diame on his return to East Yorkshire – Michael Dawson and Tom Huddlestone converted, while Jonjo Shelvey, Dwight Gayle and Yoan Gouffran all fluffed their lines to pen another entry into Newcastle’s tale of cup misfortune.

A good old-fashioned cup tie ensued in the final half hour, ironically right from the moment that Hull were reduced to 10 men after Mbokani compounded their striker shortage by receiving his marching orders after leaning his head into the face of Jamaal Lascelles.

Diame’s effort looked like securing the visitors’ passage, but Snodgrass and all those others in black-and-amber decreed otherwise.

A classic cup night certainly had not looked on the cards earlier.

After a thoroughly flat first half offering against West Brom, Hull’s improvement was negligible with Newcastle imposing themselves much quicker than the languid hosts.

Former Tigers players Isaac Hayden and Diame – handed a muted reception – were among several who came to the party for the visitors, with both almost conjuring a breakthrough.

Diame headed wide when well placed and Hayden was narrowly off target with an angled drive after David Meyler was dispossessed.

Gayle also tested the reactions of Eldin Jakupovic with an instinctive first-time shot, with Hull rather muted and unconvincing in comparison.

The hosts’ best moment by some way saw Snodgrass fire just wide midway through the half after the ball broke to him following a rare piece of ingenuity, provided by Adama Diomande.

It was a moment in isolation from Diomande, with he and the recalled duo of Meyler and Tom Huddlestone letting the game pass them by in the first half, although they were not alone. Play was decidedly scrappy on the restart, but it was Hull who adjusted the better and managed to get a toehold in the game after a slow-burner of an opening hour.

Snodgrass spurned two presentable free-kick opportunities, and Meyler saw a shot deflected wide with Newcastle largely kept in check at the other end as they struggled to prise open a well-marshalled Hull rearguard.

Hull at last began to show a hint of gaining momentum, which was in marked contrast to the early sparrings.

With play meandering rather gently towards extra-time, a flashpoint occured in the final stages of normal-time.

Mbokani reacted angrily to a robust touchline challenge from Lascelles and clearly directed his head into the face of the Magpies’ captain, with referee Neil Swarbrick subsequently brandishing the red card.

It had the effect of making Hull’s game plan somewhat straightforward in the extra half-hour as they sought to dig in and secure the prize of penalties.

Newcastle spied their opportunity, with Jakupovic denying Ciaran Clark before Achraf Lazaar’s effort shuddered the crossbar, and the pressure told moments later.

Vurnon Anita’s cross was latched onto by Diame, who prodded home from close range – forgoing any celebrations in respect for his former club – and it looked to all intents and purposes like being the game’s decisive act.

Hull had other ideas and went straight upfield to level, to the delight of the sparse home crowd, but silencing the visiting contingent who had broken into a Wembley song just moments earlier.

The strike owed much to Matz Sels’s weak parry from substitute Markus Henriksen’s drive and Snodgrass joyously slotted in the rebound.

Gayle and Henriksen went close before the penalty drama and Hull were not to be denied.

Hull City: Jakupovic; Elmohamady (Weir 79), Dawson, Maguire, Robertson (Tymon 79); Snodgrass, Huddlestone, Livermore (Henriksen 79), Meyler, Diomande, Mbokani. Unused substitutes: Marshall, Davies, Bowen, Olley.

Newcastle United: Sels; Anita (Yedlin 109), Lascelles, Clark, Lazaar; Ritchie (Atsu 81), Hayden (Murphy 105), Shelvey; Diame, Gayle, Gouffran. Unused substitutes: Darlow, Dummett, Mbemba, Tiote.

Referee: N Swarbrick (Lancashire).