Hull City 0 West Brom 1 - Report and pictures
Jake Livermore came back to haunt his former club as Albion battled their way to an impressive 1-0 win at Hull.
In what proved to be a thrilling encounter at the KCOM Stadium, Livermore scored with a 25-yard screamer to keep the Baggies on top of the Championship.
Slaven Bilic’s side didn’t have it all their own way in Yorkshire however, with an in-form Hull side pushing them all the way over the course of the 90 minutes.
For the hosts, Josh Bowler, Kamil Gorsicki and Jarrod Bowen all had good chances to score.
For Albion, Grady Diangana, Matt Phillips and Matheus Pereira all went close.
But in the end it was Albion’s battling qualities that saw them over the line with commanding performances all over the pitch but Livermore and Kyle Bartley particularly impressive.
Bilic opted to make one change from the team that secured a 2-0 win at Stoke when naming his starting line-up.
Having again impressed from the bench in that match, Hal Robson-Kanu came in up front for only his second start of the season - with Charlie Austin the man to make way.
It meant the Baggies continued in their 4-2-3-1 formation with Matheus Pereira in the number 10 role, Matt Phillips on the right wing and Grady Diangana on the left.
Hull also lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation but with a fluid front four that saw Jarrod Bowen operate as a false nine with Jackson Irvine slightly more withdrawn.
Out wide, Kamil Grosicki started on the left with Josh Bowler on the right.
Before kick-off there was an impeccably observed minute’s silence to commemorate Remembrance Sunday.
The opening 45 minutes proved to be a fascinating spectacle with Albion wanting to dominate possession and Hull wanting to hit them on the counter.
And with both teams able to stick to Plan A it lead to an intriguing first-half where both teams created good goal scoring opportunities.
After a keenly contest opening half-hour, it was the hosts who created the game’s first real chance when Diangana was robbed off possession wide on the left.
A wonderful pass from Irvine then played Grosicki clean through on goal.
But while the Polish international took the ball into his stride to enter the box, he then fired wide when he really should have scored.
Albion responded with Phillips seeing a fizzing 25-yard strike parried away by George Long.
But that was just a warning of what was to come with the Baggies then opening the scoring with a corner straight from the training ground.
After Phillips played the ball short to Pereira - the Brazilian then found Livermore in the edge of the box.
And he then rocketed an unstoppable strike into the corner from 25-yards - with the midfielder opting not to celebrate out of respect to his former employers.
Albion were now seeing a lot of the ball but the game still felt finely poised with Hull remaining a threat on the counter.
And the hosts thought they had pulled level only be denied by both Sam Johnstone and the linesman’s flag.
After Bowler send in a cross from the right, Irvine swept it towards goal only to see his effort spectacularly stopped by Johnstone.
But while Bowen was then on hand to tap into an empty net, the linesman raised his flag for offside.
From that point the half carried on in a similar pattern with Hull continuing to look dangerous in transition - but with Albion also looking bright on the ball.
It was the hosts who started the second-half on the front foot with a heavy touch from Kevin Stewart preventing the midfielder from getting a shot away after he collected a cut-back from Eric Lichaj.
Grosicki then saw a shot in the box well blocked by Bartley.
With it still feeling as though the game could go either way, Bilic made a change just past the hour mark with Filip Krovinovic replacing Phillips - in a move that saw Pereira move out to the right.
As is often the case with Bilic’s subs, the change proved to be a positive one with the Baggies settling into a rhythm and creating two excellent chances to extend their lead.
First some lovely build-up play involving Krovinovic saw Sawyers play in Diangana.
But on the angle just eight-yards out, the West Ham loanee then squeezed a strike the wrong side of the post.
Another excellent passing move then ended with Pereira curling a strike over from inside the box.
From that point, Albion managed to the game expertly with Bilic’s side working incredibly hard to restrict the hosts to very little.
McCann’s side did threaten in the 90th minute when a deep free-kick was headed across goal.
The ball was met by Jordy de Wijs on the volley but the defender’s effort sailed well over the bar.
But while Hull will feel they should have got a point, Albion’s work rate and the way they managed the second-half fully warranted the three points.
Hull: Long, Lichaj, de Wijs, Burke, Stewart (Honeyman 71), Grosicki, Bowler (Eaves 46), Bowen, Elder, Irvine, Lopes (Lewis-Potter 89)
Subs not used: Ingram, Tafazolli, Batty, Pennington.
Albion 4-2-3-1: Johnstone, Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend, Livermore, Sawyers, Phillips (Krovinovic 62), Pereira, Diangana (Edwards 78), Robson-Kanu (Zohore 93).
Subs not used: Bond, Hegazi, Brunt, Austin.