Hull City 1, Norwich City 0
PUBLISHED: 17:18 24 August 2013 | UPDATED: 17:25 29 August 2013
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
Norwich City slumped to a 1-0 Premier League defeat against ten-man Hull on a miserable afternoon at the KC Stadium.
The visitors had a numerical advantage for more than an hour on Humberside after Yannick Sagbo was red-carded for an apparent head butt motion towards Russell Martin, but Robbie Brady’s cool 22nd minute penalty earned Steve Bruce’s side their first win and Premier League points following Championship promotion.
Michael Turner’s first competitive return to the Tigers turned sour when he was adjudged to have pinned Sagbo inside the Norwich penalty area – referee Mike Jones pointing instantly to the penalty spot. Brady sent John Ruddy the wrong way and even Sagbo’s 27th minute dismissal failed to tilt the contest back in the visitors’ favour.
Chris Hughton made two changes to his starting line up from last weekend’s Premier League opener against Everton. Leroy Fer made his debut for the Canaries with Wes Hoolahan omitted. Elliott Bennett’s knee surgery did not pave the way for an immediate return to the starting line up for Robert Snodgrass with Alex Tettey preferred in midfield, but the Scottish international was named on the substitutes’ bench after missing the 2-2 draw against the Toffees with a groin injury. Snodgrass was joined by new signing Johan Elmander on the bench. Hughton opted not to include fit-again team captain Sebastien Bassong or Anthony Pilkington in his matchday plans.
Jonny Howson was deployed on the right-hand side of midfield with Nathan Redmond on the left flank and Fer in support of his Dutch compatriot Ricky van Wolfswinkel. Fer was inches from a debut goal inside the opening three minutes when his snap header on the six-yard line dropped wide of Allan McGregor’s right-hand post after van Wolfswinkel and Howson had combined to set up Steven Whittaker. Howson’s driven low cross was then scrambled away by Ahmed Elmohamady with the hosts exhibiting early signs of unease as Norwich dominated both territory and possession.
McGregor went full length to claw away Redmond’s long range hit with the Tigers’ keeper taking no chances with the dipping trajectory. Tigers’ captain Robert Koren burst onto Sone Aluko’s clever back heel at the opposite end, but lifted over Ruddy’s bar from eight yards. Norwich’s laxness in possession was providing plenty of encouragement to the Tigers as the half elapsed, but it was Hull old boy Turner who inadvertently presented the hosts with a golden chance from the penalty spot after the centre back was adjudged to have grappled Sagbo inside the visitors’ area. Brady kept his composure to send Ruddy the wrong way from the spot. Sagbo’s afternoon ended abruptly in the 27th minute when he was red-carded following a minor melee in the immediate aftermath of a Norwich penalty appeal turned down – television replays later appearing to show the Hull striker make a head butt motion in the vicinity of Martin after the Norwich captain had initially gone to ground inside the Tigers’ box. Hull responded positively to a major set back with referee Jones awarding the hosts’ a succession of free kicks for recent recruit Tom Huddlestone to test Ruddy.
Norwich struggled to retain any measure of control in the final 15 minutes of the opening period with Hughton casting an increasingly frustrated figure on the touchline at Norwich’s inability to test McGregor. Redmond come as close as anybody in black and white in the final act of the half when a 25 free kick whipped over the wall struck the base of McGregor’s right-hand upright.
Hughton hooked one of his two holding midfielders at the interval with Snodgrass replacing Bradley Johnson – prompting Howson to move back into his more favoured central role. The Scottish international showed his class in the opening moments with an angled ball dropped at Redmond’s, feet but the cute trick to fool Elmohamady and the weak strike at McGregor earned a rebuke from van Wolfswinkel stationed inside the six yard box.
Tettey controlled Curtis Davies’ spiralling headed clearance but his volley brushed James Chester at the concession of a visiting corner which the hosts dealt with. Howson then injected badly-needed sense of urgency when he anticipated Huddlestone’s mis-control, but Koren threw himself in front of the long range hit which allowed McGregor to gather at the second attempt. The former Leeds man then drove at the heart of the Hull backline again but a 25-yard sighter this time drifted over McGregor’s bar. Tettey then blazed wildly over from the edge of the Tigers’ penalty area following a sublime chest pass from van Wolfswinkel in what was to prove Norwich’s best spell of the afternoon.
Elmander made his introduction in the 65th minute with Tettey sacrificed and Fer switched to a deeper role with the Swedish international now providing chief support to van Wolfswinkel.
McGregor denied van Wolfswinkel from seven yards in the visitors’ best chance of the day out after he rose imperiously to head Javier Garrido’s teasing cross. Davies’ head injury triggered a lengthy delay in the proceedings after an aerial tussle with Turner. Hughton then played his last card from the bench with Hoolahan entering the proceedings but the hosts continued to threaten on the break with Martin and Turner both left dangerously exposed on occasions in the frantic finale. Hoolahan looked poised to test McGregor after a sweet turn but Koren bravely blocked the Irishman’s strike from 20 yards.
Fer was then penalised after rising above Jake Livermore to try and meet Snodgrass’ deep free kick with the visitors’ struggling to mount any sustained pressure on the Tigers’ goal. The home crowd greeted the fourth official’s six minutes of additional time at the end of the game with audible gasps, but it Hull who threatened to double their lead when Graham led a break out but his intended pass for Liam Rosenior proved too long.
• Hull: McGregor, Elmohamady, Chester, Davies, Figueroa, Huddlestone, Koren (Rosenior 83), Livermore, Aluko (Graham 72), Sagbo, Brady (Boyd 79). Subs (not used): Harper, Bruce, Meyler, McShane.
• Booking: Livermore (foul on Hoolahan, 76).
• Sending off: Sagbo (27)
• Goal: Brady (22)
• Norwich: Ruddy, Whittaker, Turner, Martin, Garrido, Redmond (Hoolahan 73), Johnson (Snodgrass 45), Tettey (Elmander 65), Howson, Fer, van Wolfswinkel. Subs (not used): Mark Bunn, Luciano Becchio, Martin Olsson, Ryan Bennett.
• Booking: Garrido (foul on Graham, 90).
• Referee: Mike Jones (Chester)
• Attendance: 23,682 (2,517)