DEBUTANT Alfred N’Diaye and Everton reject Oumar Niasse scored the goals as Hull City continued their revival under new head coach Marco Silva.
N’Diaye poked the Tigers in front after a mistake by Reds goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and Niasse added gloss with a second.
Silva’s impact has been immediate and clearly inspiring, as a team stacked with new faces – Kamil Grosicki was another debutant, with Omar Elabdellaoui and Evandro also starting – gelled superbly.
Silva, however, was not inclined to pick out the impact of his transfer window acquisitions and instead focused on the way in which the belief of the whole squad has sparked what once seemed an unlikely survival mission.
Silva said: “It’s important if we take these players that they can improve the squad, (but) for me it’s not important which player scores or which player gives the contributions.
“I always want our squad to play as a team – this is the most important thing.
“We keep our organisation and focus and play as a team. Some moments it’s the players who came in January, and in other moments it’s our ’keeper.
“When I came here the atmosphere was not the best and we were the last team in the table. I didn’t see our supporters in the stadium, but now I saw a fantastic atmosphere.
“I believe, and I want all the players and supporters and everyone else who works at the club to believe as well.”
Silva added: “I would have preferred to give our new signings more time to work with the team, but we didn’t have the time.
“N’Diaye and Grosicki only worked with me for two days and normally I wouldn’t put them in the first 11, but we need these players to improve our squad.
“Of course I know that in the next games they will improve like all the other players.”
Signed on loan from Inter Milan last month, Andrea Ranocchia produced an immense display on his full debut to repeatedly shut down the visitors’ sporadic attacks before threading the stunning late through-ball from which Niasse put the game beyond doubt.
Ranocchia had only been elevated to the starting line-up after Michael Dawson was injured in the warm-up and both his performance and those of fellow debutants N’Diaye and Grosicki suggest Silva’s men have survival in their sights.
The new Tigers boss has imbued his side with belief and confidence and it was evident at both ends of the pitch, in contrast to Jurgen Klopp’s men who failed abjectly to make their portions of pressure tell. Two glaring misses from Philippe Coutinho summed up another dismal day for the visitors, who only had themselves to blame as their top-four credentials took another major pounding.
Klopp is nevertheless convinced his Liverpool side will rise to the big occasion once again when they attempt to get an increasingly challenging season back on track against Tottenham next weekend.
Klopp may be permitted a sigh of relief over the stature of the Reds’ next opponents after their dismal recent record against the Premier League’s so-called lesser teams continued in Saturday’s defeat at Hull.
Liverpool’s calamitous run since the start of 2017 has seen them win just once in 10 games in all competitions and suggested they will struggle to keep their grip on a Champions League qualification place.
While Klopp admitted he remains baffled by his side’s inability to polish off the division’s smaller sides, he has not lost his faith in their ability to fight back when the test appears to be tougher.
Klopp said: “In a few days we have another opportunity to play football and we can show then that we are ready for all the other games, because it’s Tottenham, who are a top team in the league.
“I think it would make sense for us to play our best in this game, and then we have to prove the other thing (that Liverpool can beat the lesser sides) later in the season.
“We have to show it’s not like this. This week we had a really good performance (against Chelsea), but obviously we didn’t build on it. So we will have to take the criticism from everywhere.”
Klopp admitted to particular frustration with another below-average first-half performance, but will have good reason to be equally concerned with his side’s inability to recover the game after the break.
But for two glaring misses from Coutinho and some resolute Hull defending, it might have been different, but ultimately the Tigers sealed their win when Niasse struck a gleeful second six minutes from time.
Hull had matched their illustrious opponents in every department in the first half and were good value for their half-time lead, from a move which started with Grosicki’s well-delivered corner from the right.
Harry Maguire’s header was not dealt with by a flustered Mignolet under pressure from Abel Hernandez, and the ball fell invitingly to N’Diaye, who stroked it home from close range.
The hosts came under pressure in the second half, but just when it appeared the visitors’ dominance would surely tell, Ranocchia set up a superb late counter-attack that ended in Niasse racing clear and keeping his nerve to fire under the advancing Mignolet.
Hull City: Jakupovic, Elabdellaoui, Ranocchia, Maguire, Robertson, Huddlestone, N’Diaye, Grosicki (Meyler 80), Evandro (Tymon 62), Clucas, Hernandez (Niasse 65). Unused substitutes: Maloney, Mbokani, Diomande, Marshall.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Matip, Lucas, Milner (Moreno 83), Lallana (Origi 83), Henderson, Can (Sturridge 67), Mane, Firmino, Coutinho. Unused substitutes: Karius, Wijnaldum, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold.
Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).