Hull City 1 Tottenham 2: Tigers are undone by Ramirez’s needless red card

BEFORE each of the nine seasons that Steve Bruce has begun as a Premier League manager, two targets have been set that he sees as inextricably linked.

Hull City's Gaston Ramirez (right) is shown the red card by referee Craig Pawson

Namely, collecting a minimum 10 wins and achieving safety, with the chalking up of the former, in the 53-year-old’s mind, leading to the latter being all but assured.

Last season, Bruce’s logic proved spot on with Hull City finishing four points clear of trouble thanks to claiming those requisite 10 victories.

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This time around, however, things are not going to plan with just two of the Tigers’ opening 12 games having yielded maximum points. And one of those came on the opening day.

An extrapolation of that form suggests Hull are on course to claim either six or seven wins this term, way below the level Bruce believes is required to stay among the elite.

Worrying times, therefore, for a club whose next four fixtures include trips to Manchester United, Everton and Chelsea.

Yesterday was the fifth time in the league that Hull failed to win after being in front this season.

The previous four had, at least, finished as draws and the most frustrating aspect of Spurs heading south over the Humber Bridge with all three points was that defeat had been totally self-inflicted.

Gaston Ramirez’s red card just after half-time – which came courtesy of a petulant kick at Jan Vertonghen – transformed a game that had been so one-sided in the first half that had it been a boxing contest it would surely have been stopped.

Spurs, on the ropes throughout those opening 45 minutes, were fortunate to be just one goal behind at the break after being ripped apart by the Tigers.

Once a man to the good, however, the London club took charge and laid siege to the home goal in such a dominant manner that the only surprise was it took until the final minute for Christian Eriksen to net the winner.

It meant Hull ended the weekend in 16th place, Bruce’s men having slipped a place ahead of kick-off due to Crystal Palace beating Liverpool.

That had led to some furrowed brows around the KC, not least because next weekend’s tough trip to Old Trafford will come as the four clubs below the Tigers in the table face each other.

With Hull having lost their last nine meetings with the Red Devils in a run stretching back exactly 40 years, that makes it a real possibility that come 5pm on Saturday the Yorkshire club will be in the relegation zone for the first time under Bruce.

The need to avoid such a fate had clearly been made forcibly during yesterday’s build-up, Hull starting in a determined fashion as they hustled the visitors at every turn while also getting men forward quickly when in possession.

It was in total contrast to the limp efforts that had characterised the 1-0 defeat at Burnley before the international break, after which Bruce had hinted that all 11 players on duty on that sorry afternoon in Lancashire were in danger of the axe.

In the end, five of that starting line-up against the Clarets survived and two of those combined to put Hull in front on eight minutes.

Ahmed Elmohamady, collecting the ball wide on the right, sent over a typically dangerous cross that Federico Fazio could only partly clear to Jake Livermore midway inside the Spurs half.

The midfielder, who spent 17 years at White Hart Lane after joining as a junior, controlled it with a deft touch before drilling an unstoppable shot that arrowed into the bottom corner of Hugo Lloris’s net.

It was just the start Hull needed after the debacle that had been Turf Moor and, with better finishing, they could have all but killed off Spurs by half-time yesterday.

Hugo Lloris was the main reason they had not, the French goalkeeper pulling off a fine double save to keep out, first, Robbie Brady and then Ramirez in quick succession after Nikica Jelavic had scampered clear down the left.

As impressive as those stops were, however, Lloris really should have been picking the ball out of his net moments after Ramirez had been denied when the ball broke to Hatem Ben Arfa.

With the goal at his mercy and Ben Arfa being just eight yards out, Hull seemed certain to double their lead only for the Newcastle United loanee inexplicably to fire over the crossbar.

Jelavic then headed wide as Hull’s dominance continued before Spurs finally roused themselves into action as Erik Lamela brought a decent save from 
Allan McGregor and then Eriksen drilled a low cross that was just begging for a visiting player to touch in, but the ball ran dead.

Even allowing for how Spurs had ended the first half, the suspicion among the 23,561 crowd during the interval was that it would take something out of the ordinary to get Mauricio Pochettino’s side back into the contest.

This proved to be the case, as the petulance of Ramirez handed the initiative to the visitors as Hull went down to 10 men.

Sure enough, Spurs equalised just after the hour mark when Eriksen’s free-kick struck the post and Harry Kane gleefully smashed the rebound into the unguarded net from eight yards.

City were struggling badly by now as Roberto Soldado side-footed lamely wide and Kane missed the target with a back post header after the hosts had twice been opened up down their left.

This profligacy together with a flying save by McGregor to deny Ryan Mason suggested, as the game entered the final moments, that Hull might rescue an unlikely point. However, with just a few seconds remaining, Eriksen collected a pass from Aaron Lennon. Curtis Davies was then slow to close the Dane down and he was able to fire a low shot beyond McGregor and into the net.