Liverpool suffered a frustrating and disheartening defeat, losing 3-1 to Hull City, last season’s Championship runners up. A brilliant Gerrard free kick initially cancelled out Jake Livermore’s earlier deflected goal, but Meyler’s second half strike put Hull ahead, before Skrtel’s unfortunate own goal secured the three points for Hull. Liverpool made three changes from the team who drew 3-3 in last week’s Merseyside derby, bringing in Toure, Sterling and Moses in for Agger, Coutinho and the injured Sturridge. Hull also made changes from the team that lost at home to Crystal Palace, replacing McShane and Boyd with Meyler and Bruce.
The first fifteen minutes saw little action, with both teams struggling to find any passing momentum. Liverpool won several corners, but failed to create any shots on goal, while Hull had various chances to cross the ball into the box, the majority of them being cleared by the head of Skrtel.Given the Slovak’s early dominance at the back, it was unfortunate that he was involved in Hull’s first goal. Moses gave the ball away when attempting to counter, leading to Livermore’s first Premier League goal, a shot from 25 yards cruelly deflected into Mignolet’s goal by Skrtel, who perhaps could have done more to close the Spurs loanee down earlier.
Moses and Sterling both struggled in the first half, as their lack of first team action in recent weeks showed. Moses struggled with his balance and composure down the left hand side, while Sterling simply wasn’t strong enough to deal with Hull’s defenders. As a result, Suarez was isolated up front, missing his usual strike partner, as well as the creativity of Coutinho. Liverpool did finally manage to string some passes together, and this improvement led to Liverpool’s goal. Henderson was brought down by Curtis Davies, winning a free kick in a dangerous position. Gerrard took the free kick, a surprising decision given Suarez’s recent free kick record, but it was a great strike from the captain, scoring his first from outside the box of the season. Even after the goal, Liverpool struggled to impose themselves on proceeding, having a large amount of possession without really creating any decent chances. A weak shot from Suarez and a few dangerous passes were all Liverpool managed during the rest of the half, with Hull happy to soak up the pressure, and come back stronger for the second half.
The first effort of the second half came from Suarez, latching on to Toure’s through ball to attempt to score from a tight angle. The shot was comfortably saved however, and perhaps he would have been better off pulling it back for Moses or Sterling to have an effort. Liverpool continued to dominate possession, but produced no clear cut chances. Hull made a lot more of the possession they did manage, with Curtis Davies’s header drifting just wide from a dangerous Hull free kick. You could almost hear a collective sound of relief from the Liverpool fanbase when Coutinho was brought in place of the ineffective Sterling, and his impact to the team was obvious, hitting two great passes to open up Hull’s defence. It was the away team who should have taken the lead after 70 minutes, when Suarez played a ball across the box to Moses, whose close range shot was saved by McGregor. While it was a great save from the Scot, Moses really should have hit the back of the next from that range. As is so often the case in football, one golden opportunity to score immediately led to the opposing side creating one of their own. Hull got the ball forward, causing havoc in the defence. Toure made two poor clearances, and his third clearance was eventually pounced on by Meyler, whose left footed effort reached the back of the net.
The reaction to Meyler’s goal was disappointing from the Liverpool players, as it never really felt like Rodgers’ side would get back into it. Luis Alberto was brought on in place of Victor Moses, who has yet to show the manager why he deserves to make the starting eleven. Liverpool’s only notable chance was a Luis Suarez free kick from 25 yards, a well struck effort that just missed the target. It was a Martin Skrtel own goal which secured a famous win for Hull City. Huddlestone attempted a chip inside the box, and in Skrtel’s efforts to clear it for a corner, he headed it straight into his own net. Elmohamady almost made it 4-1 in the dying minutes, but his shot was poor and drifted wide of the post.
It was a terrible result for Liverpool, who go to Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City this month, and saw this as a must-win game to keep with the Champions League chasing pack. The poor second half performance was also disappointing, as it continues a worrying trend. Only twice have Liverpool outscored their opponents after the break, in the 4-1 and 4-0 wins over West Brom and Fulham respectively. Now Rodgers can’t afford any more slip ups, and the matches with Norwich and West Ham are vitally important now. It was easily their worst performance of the season, but they must put it behind and learn from the mistakes that cost them an important three points today.