Leicester City’s 100 per cent winning start in the Championship was brought to a surprising end as Hull hauled the early season pace-setters back down to earth in a smash-and-grab victory.
If the Foxes are Premier League bound then this performance wasn’t one that will get them very far in the English top-flight as Liam Delap’s first-half strike sealed three points for the Tigers at what remains one of the Championship’s toughest grounds to visit.
The visitor’s weren’t shy about showing their confidence as they played out from the back with passes between goalkeeper and defence continuing throughout, despite a sea of blue being ready to pounce.
The issue for Liam Rosenior’s side was contending with Leicester’s fluid versatility when they attacked in the early exchanges.
Bookings for defenders Alfie Jones and Lewie Coyle in the first 10 minutes highlighted Hull’s defensive struggles, but their attackers enjoyed freedom and exploited it at every opportunity, with Liam Delap at the heart of everything positive.
Liam Delap – on loan from Manchester City – celebrates scoring the eventual winner for his side
Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City battles against Hull City’s Alfie Jones during the match
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Maresca will have seen the Manchester City academy product’s quality first-hand during their time together at the Etihad and would have recognised the 20-year-old’s impending goal threat when he cut in from the wing, drifted past Callum Doyle with ease and finished into the bottom corner as his shot deflected off Jannik Vestergaard to give Hull the lead after 15 minutes.
There was immaturity in Leicester’s defending as Aaron Connolly began winning his individual battle up against Wout Faes and Hull’s approach of two passes through the middle before going wide continuing to work almost every time.
It was route one tactics working up against elementary defending, and most importantly was effective.
Ricardo Pereira, Wilfred Ndidi and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall sought equalisers with speculative efforts from range, while Kelechi Iheanacho’s blushes were spared at the end of the first-half after he rounded goalkeeper Matt Ingram but watched his eventual shot blocked on the line before the offside flag went up.
The host’s continued to test Hull’s resolve at the start of the second half through the same approach that hadn’t yet worked, Iheanacho remained the focal point amidst a lack of quality in the final third and Maresca reacted by making a triple change after less than 10 minutes, but it was Hull who remained in the ascendancy.
Connolly should have settled the game in the 59th minute but smashed his strike over the bar, before Fatawu got home supporters off their seats as his shot rebound off the post moments later.
Veteran striker and Premier League winner Jamie Vardy began the game on the bench
Ryan Christie would later force a brilliant save from Mads Hermansen.
Leicester were good up until the point they had to actually put the ball in the back of the net.
Jamie Vardy came off the bench but failed to have a sniff at goal, Dewsbury-Hall was wasteful in the box and Pereira’s efforts from outside the box summed up Leicester’s afternoon.
The Foxes might be the favourites for promotion but Hull exposed fragilities in Maresca’s side that other teams will be paying close attention to.
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
Leicester (4-3-3): Hermansen 6, Faes 5, Doyle 5, Winks 5, Iheanacho 5 (Vardy 68′, 5), Pereira 6, Dewsbury-Hall 5, Vestergaard 6, Ndidi 6 (Casadei 54′), Akgun 4 (Fatawu 54′, 7), McAteer 6 (Mavididi 54′, 6)
Unused subs: Justin, Choudhury, Marcal, Stolarczyk, Nelson
Booked: Winks, Vestergaard, Fatawu
Manager: Enzo Maresca 6
Hull City (4-2-3-1): Ingram 7, Coyle 6, Vinagre 6 (McLoughlin 63′), Greaves 7, Jones 7, Traore 6 (Christie 63′), Delap 7(Sayyadmanesh 85′ 5), Seri 7, Slater 6, Twine 6, Connolly 8(Lokilo 75′)
Unused subs: Sinik, Vaughan, Allsop, Smith, Lo-Tutala
Scorers: Delap 15′ Booked: Jones, Coyle, Delap, Vinagre, Greaves, Ingram, Sayyadmanesh
Manager: Liam Rosenior 8
Referee: John Busby 5