Swansea rode their luck to claim a point to claw their way into the top half of the Premier League on Monday night.
Danny Graham, almost inevitably, scored on his first return to the Liberty Stadium since he was shown the door by Swansea manager Michael Laudrup to give Hull an early lead.However Swansea clinched a fortuitous equaliser when Chico Flores deflected his team’s first shot on goal, after an hour, past Allan McGregor .
Swansea deserved some return for their possession, though Hull, still awaiting their first away win for three months, will feel harshly done by amid questions that the equaliser struck Chico’s hand.
That came moments before his team-mate Dwight Tiendalli escape a handball claim in the Swansea penalty area, David Myler’s effort was ruled offside and Yannick Sagbo’s scorching drive was denied by Gerhard Tremmel. Yet this encounter hardly lived up to its place in history
This fixture will forever resonate among Swansea supporters, particularly those who witnessed the club escape relegation from the Football League by the skin of their teeth in the final game of the 2002-03 season.
Members of that Swansea team who beat Hull 4-2, including the one remaining survivor in the current squad Leon Britton, as well as James Thomas, now a fireman, whose hat-trick saved the club from the gallows, were paraded on the field before kick-off. There is little doubt about the importance of that day, though few at the Vetch Field in 2003 could have imagined the clubs would meet again in the Premier League just a decade later.
Britton was ruled out with a broken toe, though Michu returned after a month out with an ankle injury. Laudrup rested Wilfried Bony, recovered from a hamstring problem, for Thursday night’s vital Europa League tie against St Gallen in Switzerland.
Nathan Dyer had helped ease the striker crisis with goals in both his previous home appearances and had the confidence to twist past Alex Bruce inside three minutes, only to fire wide.
Hull were quick to disrupt Swansea from settling into their usual rhythm, Ahmed Elmohamady probed and Myler was afforded time to unleash an early effort. Just a minute later and Ashley Williams presented an even greater gift.
The centre-back’s languid pass was easily read by Elmohamady. The Egyptian brushed off the half-hearted challenge of Pablo Hernandez before curling a delicious cross for Graham to sidefoot home at the far post inside nine minutes.
It was a dream start for Steve Bruce, though such has been Hull’s run of results on the road that the early goal made his players sit back on their advantage. Yet Swansea failed to seize control and for once, their touch escaped them as Ben Davies and then Jonathan de Guzman blazed efforts over the bar.
Laudrup’s side dominated possession but could do precious little with it. Their task grew more challenging in the second half as Hull retreated further and erected the barricades.
Curtis Davies impressed at the heart of the Tigers’ resistance but it was only a matter of time before Swansea finally found a way through – though it took a stroke of fortune to find a way past McGregor.
Hull’s goalkeeper was a by-stander for an hour but was beaten when Jonjo Shelvey’s cross skipped off both James Chester and decisively Chico.
Hull awoke from their slumber and saw a strong penalty claim waved away despite Bruce’s header striking Tiendalli’s arm. Sagbo’s powerful snap-shot then brought the best out of Tremmel.
Swansea: Tremmel 6/10, De Guzman 5, Chico 6, Canas 6, Shelvey 6, Williams 6, Michu 5, Tiendalli 6, B Davies 6, Dyer 5, Hernandez 6
Hull: McGregor 6, Sagbo 6, C Davies 7, Livermore 6, Huddlestone 6, Chester 6, Graham 6, Elmohamady 6, Figueroa 6, Meyler 6, Bruce 7
Goals. Swansea City: Chico 60. Hull City: Graham 9
Substitutes Swansea Pozuelo (De Guzman, 56), Routledge (Hernandez, 67). Hull Koren (Graham, 64). Booked Swansea Williams, Shelvey, Chico Hull Livermore, Sagbo, Figueroa. Possession Swansea 66% Hull 34%
Shots on target Swansea 2 Hull 2
MotM C Davies Match rating 6/10 Referee M Atkinson (W Yorkshire) Att 19,303