Hull fail to make most of ten-man opportunity vs. Man City
Where to start the post-mortem of Manchester City's visit to the KC Stadium: the diving, the spitting or the head butt? Accusations of all three came within seconds of one another as Hull City's George Boyd clashed with Man City goalkeeper Joe Hart but, in truth, provided little more than a spicy sub-plot to an annoyingly bland afternoon for Hull City. Despite facing 10 men for 80 minutes after Vincent Kompany's early dismissal, the Tigers lacked the creativity and finesse to make their numerical advantage count. By the final whistle it somehow felt like a routine victory for the new Premier League title favourites. - Report: Hull City 0-2 Man City The relief evident in Man City manager Manuel Pellagrini told you otherwise, but his counterpart Steve Bruce knew this was an inviting opportunity missed on home soil. "I think the frustration is we have never had a better chance to beat them," said the beaten boss. Kompany's red card for hauling down Nikica Jelavic 30 yards from goal threatened to discard all perceived logic of a technical superiority in the visitors, but instead served to entrench it. That was when Manchester City really excelled. Picking the side down to 10 men was not easy, especially once David Silva's wonderful goal turned the game in the visitors' favour four minutes after Kompany's sending off. The lead was studiously protected. Hull City were challenged to pick apart a well-drilled defence and though they never tired in their duties, an equaliser always appeared beyond a side caught offside more often than they were onside. Manchester City were the more likely scorers of a second, hitting the bar through Pablo Zabaleta and missing a golden chance through Fernandinho, but Edin Dzeko's last-minute goal sealed a fate that had long felt on the cards. In among it all was the flashpoint that made just as many headlines in the Sunday newspapers. Boyd had made a difference when introduced as a second-half substitute and a run across the opposition penalty area had been spotted by the intelligent pass of Liam Rosenior. Out came Hart and down went Boyd. Contact was minimal and only arrived once Boyd was on his way to ground. No penalty. Hart was understandably annoyed, berating his opponent at close quarters. One forehead met another with unnecessary force and as angry words were exchanged, phlegm was shown to fly from Boyd's mouth. Accusations of spitting quickly followed against Boyd and the Football Association are sure to monitor the replays closely, but Hart's reaction after the game should do his rival a favour. The England goalkeeper shook hands with Boyd after the full-time whistle and was reported to have no hard feelings in the immediate aftermath. City captain Curtis Davies summed up the support of Boyd's team-mates, too. "Knowing George as well as I do... he would never deliberately spit in anyone's face. Joe backs this up!" Davies tweeted on Sunday morning. A three-game suspension could feasibly follow if Boyd is found to have a case to answer by the FA's disciplinary committee and that would inflict further damage to another set-back on home soil. While the Tigers have made the most of their FA Cup ties at the KC Stadium in progressing all the way to Wembley, it is now just one point from their last five Premier League games there. The Manchester City defeat should not be over-analysed, however. Just as Wayne Rooney's magnificent strike was the telling difference when Manchester United won 3-2 at the KC on Boxing Day, or when Eden Hazard stole the show to inspire Chelsea's 2-0 win in January, the difference between the Tigers and their illustrious guests was individual brilliance. Silva was as good as anything seen at the KC all season and the quality of his goal perversely provides comfort for the beaten host. Survival was never likely to be decided against the top eight clubs and that is just as well. In 13 meetings to date, it is now 11 defeats for Bruce's men. One other minor cause for concern is that no side in the Premier League has taken fewer points than City during 2014. Seven points from 10 games has tempered progress since the turn of the year and left room inside the KC Stadium for anxiety to remain. The crucial wins over Sunderland and Cardiff last month have helped balance out level heads for now, but at least one more is needed from the four games to come before the Wembley FA Cup semi-final with Sheffield United. Trips to West Ham and Stoke are sandwiched by the most inviting fixtures left on their calendar, at home to West Brom this weekend and to Swansea on the first weekend of April. Four points or more would do just nicely.