King crowns Hull's rise to dizzying heights

West Bromwich Albion 0 Hull City 3: Fantasy land for Tigers as striker inspires fourth win in a row to catch Chelsea and Liverpool at the top
Click to follow
The Independent Online

It's there in black and white and, on this evidence, it's thoroughly deserved; only goal difference now separates Hull City from the Premier League summit. Today's Chelsea v Liverpool game ensures that some daylight will be re-established but it will take more, much more, to shake Hull's fans from the fantasy world which they now inhabit.

Their side traded blow for blow with West Bromwich Albion for 47 minutes, then brilliantly squeezed the life from them with three goals and their fourth successive victory.

If Kamil Zayatte's ice-breaker was routine, the killer strikes from Geovanni and Marlon King oozed class.

It's no longer a matter of whether Hull will survive. It's more about which half of the table they finish in. Against opponents who themselves played well enough before subsiding, they were again a revelation. What a start, what a story.

"Twenty points from nine games is Champions' League form but form is temporary," said Hull's manager Phil Brown. "Yes, if I'm honest, I'm surprised where we are but we aren't getting carried away.

"We have earned the right not to be classed as whipping boys. The best thing about the dressing room is the mentality not to concede goals."

Those expecting to see them shouldering an inferiority complex are having a long wait. Hull matched Albion's first-half enterprise in this battle of 2008 Championship winners and play-off victors, and had luck on their side. Inside 10 minutes, Borja Valero's powerful 25-yarder was beaten out by Boaz Myhill for Jonas Olsson to head against the underside of the bar. Having won three League games out of four up to last weekend, Albion were bright until rocked by Hull's counter-offensive. King dragged an effort wide in a break led by Dean Marney, then Ian Ashbee, drove a clear chance off target from 12 yards.

Hull won at The Hawthorns last season as well as at Arsenal and Tottenham much more recently and adapted impressively to the early loss through injury of Andy Dawson, one of the survivors of their basement division days. Albion always appeared vulnerable to Hull's set-piece threat and Zayatte sent a header bouncing wide from another Marney corner, only for the tide to turn once more.

Amid a breathless succession of near misses, Miller turned superbly away from Zayatte on to Valero's incisive pass, only for Myhill to show why he has now kept three successive clean sheets. Bednar stabbed Valero's corner too high before the breakthrough came immediately after Scott Carson pawed wide a Geovanni shot deflected by Paul Robinson.

Neither Ishmael Miller, by now wearing a head bandage following a high kick from Sam Ricketts, nor Robinson could reach Marney's right-wing corner and Zayatte volleyed in right-footed from seven yards.

Ryan Donk's header was cleared off the line by Ricketts and James Morrison and Robert Koren brought excellent saves out of Myhill from distance as Carson similarly denied King.

But Hull brilliantly secured victory with two goals in four minutes. King showed excellent composure to lob a return pass over Gianni Zuiverloon for Geovanni to dive and head in, the finishing flourish coming when King shrugged off Donk too easily after Zuiverloon's misplaced header to beat Carson with another exquisite finish.

"We have to be more clinical when we create chances," said Albion's manager Tony Mowbray. It was one thing for Albion to collapse at Old Trafford; another altogether to go the same way here. But Hull were outstanding.

Comments