Hull City’s ‘collective spirit’ silences Dean Smith’s Canaries


Hull City put on a show of endeavour as they hung onto a 2-1 win over promotion hopefuls Norwich City at the MKM Stadium.

Óscar Estupiñán was the hero of the afternoon as his two goals, one in each half secured City’s second home win of the season in a highly entertaining game that captured Championship football in a nutshell.

In the opening quarter, Norwich recorded six attempts on goal and if it wasn’t for a degree of luck and some smart goalkeeping from Matt Ingram, City could well have two to three goals behind.

They carved through the hosts’ defence at will in the early stages with Keiran Dowell and Todd Cantwell probing away. Teemu Pukki, still looking to register his goals account for the season looked a frustrated figure in the Canaries’ attack as he was denied with the away side well on top in a frantic start.

It was not looking too bright for the home support until skipper, Lewie Coyle, got them further up the pitch with his usual swashbuckling endeavour. As he burst into Norwich’s final third, his cross fell to Benjamin Tetteh, who could only blaze over when well placed at the back post.

With 17,000 fans inside the MKM, the moment ignited the home support into action and as Ozan Tufan, Hull’s Turkish playmaker came to life with some classy moments of individual skill and swagger, the volume levels went up a few more octaves. His 25-yard effort that flew just over Tim Krul’s top corner threatened to raise the roof further.

Considering their nervy start, City had clawed their way back into a more even contest, as they began to get a grip of Norwich’s midfield. Their energy to press Dean Smith’s side paid dividends right on the stroke of halftime as Estupiñán capitalised on some suspect defending.

As Max Aarons cleared the ball away inside his penalty box, it inexplicably struck fellow defender Andrew Omobamidele and bounced kindly into the path of opportunist Estupiñán,  who converted past Tim Krul from eight yards to open the scoring.

The Canaries had the better after the restart but despite having plenty of the ball, it was the Tigers that extended their lead after getting themselves back into proceedings.

Excellent link-up play between Estupinan and Alfie Jones, got the latter away down the right and as he pulled back to Tufan inside the area, the Turk’s goal-bound effort was superbly blocked by the away defence. As City continued their momentum, Tetteh had another shot charged down that brought about the hosts’ second of the afternoon.

Tufan’s whipped-in corner caused havoc in the box as Estupinan placed the ball into the net after Regan Slater and Jones were both denied by some desperate Norwich defending.

Marcelino Núñez set up a nervy final quarter with a superbly flighted 25-yard free kick that gave keeper Ingram little chance. Substitute Aaron Ramsey was presented with two great opportunities to grab an equalizer but he missed an open goal from Aaron’s cross and was then denied by a magnificent goal-line clearance from Jacob Greaves.

Despite seven minutes of injury time, City hung onto their lead with Ingram making another great save to deny Núñez once more from a carbon copy free kick position. The stop lifted the crowd to carry their side through for a deserved win in a performance of grit and determination.

Callum Elder, who has been given an opportunity to re-establish himself as the first choice left back following an injury to Brandon Fleming, could not speak highly enough of the feel-good factor around the club and was quick to talk about the positive influence of the new signings who have arrived over the summer.

“It was a really strong result. I’m delighted for Oscar to get two goals and there is such a good atmosphere around the club at the moment, the stadium was bouncing.

“We worked really hard, nullified their spaces in our own half and we saw the game out. 

“The collective spirit that we’ve got in the squad is incredible. The boys that have come in from other countries and other leagues have been exceptional. They’ve made big efforts to get on board and integrate themselves into the squad and they’ve been welcomed with open arms.”

The result had left manager Dean Smith disappointed that his side could not make the most of their dominance but without a league win in their opening three games, he was satisfied with his side’s general play and that wins would not be too far around the corner.

“We’re giving ourselves tough things to come back from with silly mistakes, but I don’t think after three games there’s any cause to panic.

“We should have won the game in the first 20 minutes – the chances we created and the players who they fell to.

“It’s very frustrating. We’ve dominated all three games this season, but, unfortunately, at the moment, we haven’t scored enough goals. Hull are very fortunate to go away with a win.”

Moving top of the Championship table, City’s response from being knocked out of the League Cup in midweek was just the tonic as they travel to Burnley on Tuesday evening, they should be bolstered by the arrival of Birmingham City midfielder Ryan Woods after undergoing his medical over the weekend.


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