The £14m that Hull City have paid to keep themselves in with a chance of staying up appears to have done exactly that. After failing to pick up a point or score a goal in their previous four League matches, the Tigers, with Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic making their home debuts up front, were slightly unfortunate not to have beaten a Spurs side that looked to be feeling the effects of being hammered by Manchester City in their previous match.
As it was, the fact that Long’s first goal for Hull – he finished with supreme competence after being played through by Jelavic in the 12th minute – was cancelled out by a Paulinho strike shortly after the hour did not leave his manager Steve Bruce too unhappy.
“We could have had all three points because we had arguably the better chances, but I’m pleased because we’ve shown we’ve now got that bit of something else up front,” said Bruce.
Volleys by Jelavic – an acrobatic effort that landed on the roof of the Spurs net – and Emmanuel Adebayor, who drew an outstanding save from Hull goalkeeper Steve Harper, had already had the crowd on their feet when Hull went ahead. Competing with Danny Rose, Jelavic managed to flick the ball on for Long, who out-paced Jan Vertonghen and Michael Dawson before beating Hugo Lloris .
Had Jelavic’s 24 yard free-kick shortly before half-time curled inside the post, instead of a few inches wide, it would have been hard to see the visitors getting back into the game, but the second half saw the momentum shift.
Paulinho, playing his first game after a month out, began to assert himself in midfield, and was in the right place at the right time when Rose’s mis-hit shot arrived in Hull’s penalty area. The Brazilian controlled, turned and beat Harper with a powerful rising drive.
The final half hour was remarkably open, and Jelavic was doubly unfortunate, first when he ran on to Robert Koren’s pass and slid the ball past Lloris only for Dawson to clear off the line, and then when he poked Long’s clever cross against the base of the post.
The Croatian also saw Lloris make a fine save from his angled drive, and the stadium rose when he was substituted shortly before final whistle. Spurs, too, had their chances, Nabil Bentaleb in particular going close.
Spurs head coach Tim Sherwood was delighted with his side’s resilience . “One thing for sure, if we weren’t going to win, we weren’t going to lose, and that could be a very important point at the end of the season – for both sides,” he said.
Hull City (4-4-2): Harper: Rosenior, McShane, Davies, Figueroa; Elmohamady (Koren, 69), Meyler, Huddlestone, Brady (Boyd, 69); Long, Jelavic (Sagbo, 88)
Tottenham (4-4-2): Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose; Lennon, Bentaleb, Paulinho, Eriksen; Adebayor (Kane, 89), Soldado.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
Man of the match: Jelavic (Hull)
Match rating: 7/10