Nightmare for Hull as Sunderland push Tigers into real trouble
Hull City's survival ambitions have been left battered and bruised following Saturday's disastrous 2-0 home defeat to Sunderland, a side relegated seven days earlier.
The Tigers' performance warranted something after long spells of pressure but second half goals from Billy Jones and Jermain Defoe caused an ill-timed upset at the KCOM Stadium.
For the first time in his Hull City reign -- and for the first time since 2014 -- Marco Silva suffered a league defeat on home soil. The timing could hardly have been worse with his team sliding into the Premier League's bottom three.
It would need the king of wishful thinking to sugar-coat this dispiriting setback. Against an opponent that had won just one of its previous 17 Premier League games, the Tigers were not good enough to find the win they so badly needed.
Perhaps the only two players to escape criticism for City were Andy Robertson and Sam Clucas. Robertson excelled up and down the left flank, often teaming up well with Kamil Grosicki, while Clucas was one of the few to play without tension in midfield. If only there had been more hitting those levels.
City lost a game they could not afford to lose. Hosting Sunderland was the home banker of the run-in but the Tigers were unable to handle the pressure. Too many chances were squandered and defensively they was always spaces left for Sunderland to exploit. The likes of Ahmed Elmohamady, Alfred N'Diaye and Oumar Niasse were all well below their best.
Just to compound the sense of misery, Swansea's win over Everton in the late kick-off dragged the Tigers into the relegation zone for the first time in a month. Blows such as these are not easily shaken off with just two games remaining.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Silva has got plenty right since arriving in the Premier League but his team selection felt a mistake. Oumar Niasse and Abel Hernandez did not play like a strike-force yet he persisted with that bold approach.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Eldin Jakupovic, 6 -- The blame did not rest with City's goalkeeper, whose penalty heroics had sent Sunderland down seven days earlier. Kept out Defoe one-on-one and then Seb Larsson from a late free kick.
DF Ahmed Elmohamady, 3 -- Hard to think of too many times the long-serving Egyptian has performed as poorly in black and amber. Sent in a cross for Lazar Markovic to test Jordan Pickford but it was an error-strewn effort.
DF Harry Maguire, 6 -- Able to hold his head up after he often stepped up to drive his team forward from the back. Always looking for a forward pass but no disguising what was a far from assured team display at the back.
DF Andrea Ranocchia, 5 -- The Italian defender came close to a late consolation when denied by Larsson on the line but it was an otherwise uncomfortable day against Defoe. Outstripped by one long punt from Pickford.
DF Andy Robertson, 7 -- The Tigers' best player thanks to his relentless raids down the left flank. Saw a weak link in Jones and aimed to exploit it. Very good defensive work also summed up by a crucial sliding tackle on Fabio Borini.
MF Lazar Markovic, 5 -- The winger on loan from Liverpool forced a reflex save from Pickford with a firm header but his impact was only ever fleeting. Not enough on the ball and hobbled off after an innocuous clash with Defoe.
MF Alfred N'Diaye, 4 -- Up against the team that gave him a first taste of the Premier League, it was a day to forget. Cumbersome in midfield, he fluffed the best chance of the game when volleying Grosicki's deep cross wide.
MF Sam Clucas, 7 -- One of the few to play with any real composure in City's midfield, keeping play ticking over in central areas. The first to really test Pickford in the first half with a fierce low drive pushed wide.
MF Kamil Grosicki, 6 -- The Polish winger had Jones' number all afternoon, regularly brining the full-back out in a sweat with his pace. The final ball was never as convincing but his deep cross should have been turned in by N'Diaye.
FW Abel Hernandez, 5 -- Recalled to the starting XI but unable to find the killer instinct in front of goal. Sent one shot wide, had another saved by Pickford from close range, before O'Shea's brilliant block denied him again.
FW Oumar Niasse, 4 -- The striker's prematch assertion this would be a chance to improve City's goal difference was made to look rather misguided. Struggled to link up with Hernandez for much of the day and shanked his one big chance.
MF Tom Huddlestone, N/R -- A second-half introduction brought some nice touches in a hectic finale.
FW Dieumerci Mbokani, N/R -- A rare chance off the bench but not taken. Ineffective.
MF Evandro, N/R -- One late shot wide from distance was all he had to show for his cameo.
Philip Buckingham is ESPN FC's Hull City blogger. Follow him on Twitter: @PJBuckingham.