Harry Maguire produced a superb captain’s performance as Hull City moved out of the bottom three with a thrilling 4-2 Premier League win over Middlesbrough.
Manager Marco Silva’s run of 39 home league games without defeat, which stretches back to March 2014 with Estoril, appeared under threat when Alvaro Negredo gave Boro a fifth-minute lead.
However, it was extended to 40 in a pulsating contest at the KCOM Stadium, Lazar Markovic’s first Hull goal and an Oumar Niasse strike turning the game on its head.
Maguire had a huge hand in Hull’s third goal, converted by Abel Hernandez, but Middlesbrough pulled one back before half-time, though Marten de Roon’s effort should have been disallowed for offside.
But a well-deserved three points were wrapped up by Maguire’s first league goal for Hull – plunging Boro further into the mire with Steve Agnew’s men seven points adrift of safety.
Both Hernandez and Maguire were withdrawn through injury, but Hull are now two points above 18th-placed Swansea City.
5 – No Premier League game this season has seen more first-half goals than Hull vs Middlesbrough tonight. Entertainers.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 5, 2017
Hull could have opened the scoring in the opening minutes, but Markovic made the inexplicable decision of squaring to Niasse, who was in an offside position, when through on goal.
Niasse turned home only to be rightly flagged by the assistant and Hull were duly punished by a fine Negredo opener.
Negredo played a wonderful ball to find Adama Traore, whose shot-turned-cross was met at the far post by the Spaniard with a sliding finish back across goal.
Hull’s response was bright and, after Kamil Grosicki lashed a volley over, Markovic atoned for his earlier mistake.
Ben Gibson failed to deal with a deflected looping cross from Andrew Robertson and Markovic took advantage to toe-poke home from close range.
Hernandez side-footed a free-kick from the edge of the area narrowly wide, but Hull completed the turnaround in the 27th minute.
Niasse latched on to Hernandez’s cushioned header down and found the bottom-left corner with a scrappy finish.
Eldin Jakupovic was forced into action to keep out a tame volley from Negredo, but Hull doubled their advantage in the 33rd minute courtesy of an excellent team move.
Maguire found Grosicki with a marvellous throughball and the Pole coolly squared for Hernandez to tuck home Hull’s third.
Only the reflexes of Jakupovic prevented Boro from quickly halving the deficit as he tipped Rudy Gestede’s far-post header onto the crossbar.
But Jakupovic did nothing as De Roon gave Boro a lifeline in first-half stoppage time, the goalkeeper appealing for a flag that never came as the Dutchman bundled home from Gibson’s header from an offside position, referee Michael Oliver still awarding the goal even after a discussion with his linesman.
Hull suffered a blow when Hernandez was forced off and replaced by Evandro, but they continued to cause Boro problems and Maguire gave the visitors a mountain to climb 20 minutes from time.
Nobody picked up Maguire at the far post, allowing him to power Robertson’s deep free-kick delivery across goal and in with a stunning header.
Boro never looked like mounting a fightback and, in truth, Hull could have added to their lead, the nature of the victory surely giving Silva’s men more confidence ahead of a trip to Manchester City at the weekend despite Maguire’s late enforced exit.
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