So Marco Silva is no longer invincible on home soil and the end of a remarkable run could hardly have come at worse time for Hull City.
Sunderland, already relegated and playing for little more than pride, showed a resilience and determination they so lacked this season, to inflict the first KCOM Stadium defeat for Silva since his arrival in January.
Billy Jones’s diving header and Jermain Defoe’s stoppage-time strike meant the end of a superb sequence for Hull’s Portuguese manager, who had not lost in 41 previous home league matches with four different clubs.
More pressingly, the defeat was a missed opportunity for Hull, who could have put five points between themselves and Swansea, their closest rivals in the battle to beat relegation. Instead, they produced a disjointed performance and found Jordan Pickford, the Sunderland goalkeeper, in imperious form.
Sunderland are going down but Pickford surely deserves to be a Premier League player next season.
With relegation confirmed in defeat by Bournemouth last time out, David Moyes’s focus has turned to preparing for next season and salvaging some pride from the current campaign. There were glimpses of it at Hull, as Sunderland showed some spirit.
The visitors stood firm to Hull’s attacks and had bright moments of their own on the break. They should have been in front in the fourth minute but midfielder George Honeyman headed wide from a good position after Jones’s cross.
This defeat is a first blot on the copybook of Silva, who has impressed since his arrival. The Portuguese has done remarkable work to give Hull a fighting chance of survival and his efforts have not gone unnoticed.
Regardless of whether survival is accomplished, Silva has impressed enough already to ensure he is likely to have options in the summer.
His Hull team, on home soil at least, usually play with vibrancy and confidence and Sunderland were indebted to Pickford for keeping Hull at bay in the 20th minute when he dived low to his right to save from Sam Clucas’s firm drive. It was the first of his three key saves in the match.
A minute later, Harry Maguire was allowed to wander forward from defence and Pickford was relieved to see his fierce drive fly narrowly wide of his near post.
Sunderland’s sustained mediocrity has meant supporters have had a while to prepare themselves for relegation and there was gallows humour from the away end. “Down with the Sunderland,” they sang in the direction of their hosts.
Hull fans were calling for a penalty when Oumar Niasse’s overhead kick hit John O’Shea’s elbow but Neil Swarbrick, the referee, was unmoved before Abel Hernandez went close after cutting in from the right corner of the penalty box.
At the opposite end, there were warning shots for Hull. Defoe came close to ending his 10-match goalless run when he fired wide from 20 yards out before O’Shea’s flicked header from Fabio Borini drifted dangerously close to Eldin Jakupovic’s post.
Jakupovic saved smartly to deny Defoe early in the second half after Pickford’s accurate long ball before Alfred N’Diaye missed a glorious chance to put Hull ahead.
Pickford was only able to get a finger on Kamil Grosicki’s chipped cross but it was enough to ensure the ball did not fall kindly for N’Diaye at the back post and his untidy finish went wide.
Pickford again showed his quality with a brilliant one-handed save to keep out Lazar Markovic’s header after Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross as the Tigers turned the screw.
Sunderland were showing some fight a fine challenge from O’Shea blocked Hernandez’s goal-bound shot before the Irish defender made an impact in an attacking sense.
O’Shea flicked on Honeyman’s corner at the near post to allow Jones a diving header into the bottom corner with 21 minutes left.
This was supposed to be Hull’s home banker but they were making a mess of it.
Andy Robertson bundled his way into the Sunderland area and found Niasse in a good position but the on-loan Everton striker screwed his shot wide before another smart stop from Pickford kept out Hernandez’s first-time shot.
Sunderland added their second in stoppage time when Defoe moved ahead of Andrea Ranocchia to apply a scrappy finish to Sebastian Larsson’s free-kick, as the Hull defence appealed for offside.
“Two-nil to the Championship,” sang the away fans.
Sunderland, who have Swansea to play next, are having a say on who they drag down with them.
Hull (4-4-2): Jakupovic; Elmohamady (Evandro, 86), Maguire, Ranocchia, Robertson; Markovic (Huddlestone, 65), N’Diaye (Mbokani, 78), Clucas, Grosicki; Niasse, Hernandez.
Substitutes not used: Marshall, Maloney, Dawson, Henriksen.
Sunderland (4-3-3): Pickford; Jones, O’Shea, Kone, Manquillo; Honeyman (Larsson, 79), Denayer, Ndong; Borini, Defoe, Anichebe.
Substitutes not used: Mannone, Djilobodji, Rodwell, Khazri, Love, Gooch.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire).Reuse content