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Dublin: 9°C Sunday 9 May 2021

Champions Leicester beaten by relegation favourites Hull in league curtain-raiser

The Foxes lost 2-1 at the KC Stadium.

Match-winner Robert Snodgrass.
Match-winner Robert Snodgrass.

HULL CITY PUT their abysmal pre-season to one side to stun Premier League champions Leicester City on the opening day.

The Tigers came into the contest without a full-time manager following Steve Bruce’s departure – caretaker boss Mike Phelan took charge of the home side on Saturday - and just 13 fit senior professionals but produced a performance full of spirit to see off Claudio Ranieri’s men.

A second-half strike from Robert Snodgrass proved the difference, the Scotland international driving home from inside the area after Kasper Schmeichel had carelessly giving away possession.

Earlier, Riyad Mahrez’s penalty had drawn Leicester level following Adama Diomande’s spectacular opener on the stroke of half-time.

Leicester will look back ruefully on a first-half they dominated without making it count – Jamie Vardy particularly wasteful in front of goal.

Vardy completely missed his kick in the 19th minute after good work down the left from Ahmed Musa, with Mahrez blasting wide seconds later after picking up the loose ball.

The Foxes could have gone a goal up midway through the first period when Mahrez set up Danny Drinkwater, only for the England midfielder to aim inches wide of the far post.

Hull goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic denied Christian Fuchs shortly before the interval, with the defender popping up inside the area after a neat one-two with Musa. Both Vardy and Mahrez had opportunities from the resulting scramble but neither managed to find the net, the former denied by a wonderful block by Jake Livermore.

Vardy was again profligate in the 44th minute when he fired wildly over after yet more good work from the impressive Musa.

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Hull City v Leicester City - Premier League - KCOM Stadium Mahrez (right) celebrates his goal with Danny Drinkwaters and Andy King. Source: Nigel French

And Hull, for whom Curtis Davies came close early on with a header from Snodgrass’ corner, made him pay in the dying seconds of the opening period.

Schmeichel did well to deny Davies but the ball bounced up for both Diomande and Abel Hernandez to turn goalwards with acrobatic efforts. Television replays showed Hernandez got the first touch, kicking it on to Diomande before it flew in off the underside of the bar.

Leicester immediately bounced back after the break, though, as Mahrez coolly converted from the spot to level the scoring in controversial fashion. Tom Huddlestone seemed to bring down Demarai Gray just outside the area, but referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot and Mahrez made no mistake.

It would have been easy for Hull to fold but they showed impressive mental fortitude to restore their lead in the 57th minute.

Schmeichel’s inaccurate throw towards Gray allowed Ahmed Elmohamady to raid forward and send in a dangerous cross from the right that eventually ended up at Snodgrass’ feet and the former Norwich City midfielder fired home.

Mahrez came close to equalising for a second time with a fine free-kick, while substitute Shinji Okazaki also looked dangerous on a number of occasions, but Hull deserved their remarkable win.

It is the first time the Premier League champions have ever lost on the opening day of the following season.

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