‘We need to be strong’ - Hull City must find finishing power to win battle against relegation

Hull City's Sam Clucas celebrates with team-mates after scoring.
Hull City's Sam Clucas celebrates with team-mates after scoring.
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VICTORY over Swansea City at the KCom Stadium on Saturday is looking more important than ever after Hull City failed to overcome another of their relegation battlers.

The Tigers remain second bottom of the table, four points from safety after Crystal Palace won at West Bromwich.

Tigers chief Marco Silva, who must prepare his side for the visit of Swansea, who enjoyed a 3-2 win over Burnley to move six points clear of Hull, admitted: “Of course, these are not good numbers. We need to be strong and to fight, like we did against Leicester.

“But the most important thing is when we have a chance to score, we score. Goals are the most important thing in matches.

“Now is the moment to rest and analyse the game with the players and then we work towards the next game against Swansea.”

Sam Clucas gave Hull the lead but goals from Christian Fuchs and Riyad Mahrez turned the game. A late own goal by Tom Huddlestone only added to Hull’s disappointment.

Silva added: “First of all, we need to look at ourselves. Of course it was not a good result for us. Like I expected, it was a very fast game. Leicester started strongly but we put in some counter-attacks to cause problems for them.

“After 45 minutes, the score was fair and we started very well in the second half and had two chances to score. One hit the post and the other was a very good save from Kasper Schmeichel.

“The game was really very balanced but one good shot from outside of the box led to a good goal by Leicester. We reacted very well again but, of course, when you have good chances in the game you have to score.”

Leicester interim manager Craig Shakespeare hopes Mahrez’s goal against Hull will signal his return to form.

The Algeria international, much like the Leicester team, has struggled to reproduce last season’s form which saw him voted the PFA Player of the Year.

However, there was a glimpse of the magic that earned him that accolade when he scored Leicester’s second goal.

Mahrez turned Andrew Robertson one way then the other trying to create an opening for a shot and, after cutting back for the third time, he found the bottom corner of the net with a shot from the edge of the area.

It was the winger’s eighth goal of the season and his first for the Foxes since November.

Shakespeare said: “Riyad Mahrez has been frustrated with himself. We told him to go out there and be himself. It is the Mahrez of old with the goal he scored.

“Goals give players confidence and hopefully now he can go on a run. Results give players confidence. Back-to-back wins will give confidence for the last 11 games of the season.”

It was a huge win for the champions, who are five points clear of the relegation zone.

Shakespeare, assistant to the axed Claudio Ranieri, has won both matches in interim charge 3-1 after his side followed up Monday’s home victory over Liverpool.

Leicester are still sounding out potential replacements for Ranieri, with former England manager Roy Hodgson reported to be among the names being explored, yet it could be difficult to look beyond Shakespeare.

The 53-year-old, who would like the job, appears to have the backing of the majority of the Leicester fans – as well as the players. He is also highly regarded by Jon Rudkin, the club’s director of football.

Leicester are set to fly off to Dubai for a four-day warm weather training camp and Shakespeare will meet the club’s owners on their return to discuss his prospects.

Leicester began against Hull with the same renewed vigour they showed in defeating Liverpool. Wes Morgan headed wide from Mahrez’s free-kick before two dangerous low crosses from Jamie Vardy into the six-yard box were turned behind under considerable pressure by Harry Maguire and then Robertson.

Maguire then bravely threw himself in front of a goalbound shot from Robert Huth and Hull survived once more.

It was against the run of play when Hull took the lead after 14 minutes. Clucas led a swift break through the middle before Oumar Niasse and Kamil Grosicki combined down the left side of the area and Clucas, released by Leicester as a schoolboy, slid in to poke home Grosicki’s cross from six yards.

Left-back Fuchs linked up with Vardy down the flank, playing a couple of one-twos before continuing his run into the area where he was on hand to finish off Vardy’s cut back from 10 yards out. However, goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic will be disappointed the ball crept beneath him.

Having frustrated Leicester at one end during the first half, Maguire made a nuisance of himself in attack at the start of the second.

The defender saw a header clip a post following a corner and shortly afterwards worked Schmeichel with another header from Grosicki’s delivery.

Jakupovic kept out a tame effort from Mahrez just before the hour, but the Algeria international was merely finding his range.

Next time the ball was at his feet, Mahrez turned Robertson inside out before scoring.

Hull tried to respond immediately and Schmeichel had to punch clear a free-kick whipped in by Grosicki before blocking an effort from Niasse at his near post with six minutes remaining.

After Jakupovic saved to deny Demarai Gray, Leicester sealed victory in the final minute when Onyinye Ndidi’s header from a corner struck Huddlestone and flew into the net.

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Ndidi, Mahrez (Slimani 83), Okazaki (Gray 70), Albrighton, Vardy. Unused substitutes: Chilwell, King, Amartey, Zieler, Ulloa.

Hull City: Jakupovic, Elmohamady, Ranocchia, Maguire, Robertson, Huddlestone, Markovic (Diomande 78), N’Diaye (Hernandez 68), Clucas, Grosicki, Niasse. Unused substitutes: Meyler, Elabdellaoui, Maloney, Marshall, Tymon.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).