HULL CITY slipped deeper into the relegation mire after another lifeless performance at the KC Stadium.
Against a Swansea City side forced into seven changes by injury and who started with top scorer Wilfried Bony on the bench, the Tigers were deservedly beaten.
A deflected goal by Ki Sung-Yueng may have ultimately settled a dour contest in the Swans’ favour. But, on chances created and the overall balance of play, City could have no complaints to lose after a largely awful display from Steve Bruce’s men.
A flying header from Nikica Jelavic apart, Swans goalkeeper Lucasz Fabianski had little to do as the Tigers proved to be toothless once again to extend their sorry scoring record to just two in nine outings.
On a black day all round for Hull, they also lost captain Curtis Davies to injury and Jake Livermore to suspension after the midfielder collected a fifth booking of the season to rule him out of the Boxing Day trip to Sunderland.
Swansea’s winner did have an element of good fortune, as Jonjo Shelvey’s shot was going wide when it struck Ki Sung-Yueng on the thigh and deflected past a stranded Allan McGregor.
It was cruel on City, though questions should be asked as to the amount of space afforded Ki by the home side before he took aim.
Hull should really have learned from that but they made the same mistake just after the half-hour, Shelvey again given the freedom of the KC to line up a 20-yard shot that crashed against the inside of the post before bouncing to safety.
It was by no means the only let-off for the hosts in the first half, with Andrew Robertson having to scamper across and prevent Nathan Dyer having a clear run on goal following a quick throw by goalkeeper Lucasz Fabianksi.
The Tigers also had chances in the first half. Early on, Gaston Ramirez fired wide when well placed, while Nikica Jelavic did the same after finding space on the left.
Then, after Ki’s fortuitous opener, Andrew Robertson fired against the crossbar following excellent build-up play involving Ramirez and Abel Hernandez.
Fabianksi also saved from Hernandez before the interval but City needed a fine save by McGregor to rescue them 11 minutes after the restart when Shelvey was played through.
The upright then did the same 15 minutes from time when Bafi Gomes, under pressure from Ahmed Elmohamady, scuffed a shot against the post from a right wing cross by Marvin Emnes
City’s only moment of threat in the second half came when Elmohamady pickedn out Jelavic, whose header was well saved. That apart, though, Hull were woeful and now need a major upturn of form over Christmas if they are not to be cut adrift.
For the Tigers, things are becoming increasingly bleak.
They are winless in 10 matches and have not scored in seven of those.
Lying second bottom they are also battling a player shortage, with Jake Livermore’s fifth yellow card ruling him out of the Boxing Day trip to Sunderland and defenders Curtis Davies and Alex Bruce limping off.
With Michael Dawson, Mohamed Diame and Tom Huddlestone already sitting out, Bruce is without a handful of senior men.
“Today just highlighted for me the need for your big players,” he said.
“I still expect a better performance than we witnessed in the second half but we’re crying out for some of our bigger players. Whether it’s injuries or suspensions we couldn’t cope without them.
“You need your big established Premier League players and far too many of ours are sitting in the stands.”
Bruce also revealed that SOS calls for Tom Ince and Maynor Figueroa, on loan at Cardiff and Wigan respectively, were imminent.
“We’ll probably recall Incey and probably Figueroa too. We are down to 15 or 16 players who are available,” Bruce said.