English Premiership

Hull on brink of relegation

2010-04-24 18:55
Darren Bent (AFP)

Hull - Hull City are on the brink of relegation from the Premier League after Darren Bent's strike gave Sunderland a 1-0 win at the KC Stadium on Saturday.

Iain Dowie's third from bottom side are now six points from safety with just two games to play as a result of this defeat and West Ham's 3-2 victory over Wigan.

The Tigers could theoretically still avoid the drop on goal difference if they win their final two matches by massive margins and West Ham lose twice, but it would take a miraculous sequence of results to overturn the 23-goal difference between the clubs.

That is an unthinkable prospect, leaving Hull facing up to the reality of a return to the Championship after two years in the English top-flight.

It could have been different if Jimmy Bullard had not missed a first half penalty, while Hull's Jozy Altidore and Sunderland's Alan Hutton were sent off before the break following an off-the-ball clash.

Sunderland were on top at the start and Steed Malbranque found space inside the area to tee up Jordan Henderson, only for the youngster to shoot wide.

Steve Bruce's side took the lead in the seventh minute as Hutton's cross was headed across goal by Kenwyne Jones for Bent to tap in his 25th goal of the season from a tight angle.

Hull should have been level in the 26th minute when Bullard's corner landed on the head of Anthony Gardner six yards out but his effort hit the chest of Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon.

It took another fine stop from Gordon to deny Caleb Folan and the striker was involved in the incident that should have seen the Tigers draw level in the 41st minute.

Folan was fortunate to get away with what appeared a tug on Hutton but the ball fell to Geovanni and he was fouled in the penalty area by former Hull defender Michael Turner.

However, Bullard fluffed his lines as his penalty cannoned off a post to safety.

With referee Lee Probert about to blow the whistle for half-time, both sides were reduced to 10 men.

Altidore and Hutton challenged for the ball near the byline, with the Sunderland defender then foolishly throwing the ball at the head of his opponent.

Altidore responded by headbutting Hutton, earning an immediate red card from Probert, who then waited for Hutton to receive treatment before also giving the Scot his marching orders.

Hull rarely threatened an equaliser after that and were grateful to Matt Duke for keeping them in the game in the 67th minute as the keeper tipped away Lorik Cana's 25-yard effort.

Bruce was sent to the stands for one complaint too many to the officials, but the Hull players were soon slumping to the turf as the final whistle all but sealed their relegation.

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