Hull thrash sorry Cardiff
Published 22/02/2014 | 17:37
Cardiff failed to give owner Vincent Tan any kind of birthday present as they lost 4-0 at home to Hull in what was a crunch Barclays Premier League game for the Bluebirds.
The Malaysian billionaire turns 62 on Sunday, but any celebrations will be quelled by the Welsh side's worst home defeat in 14 years.
A deflected Tom Huddlestone shot, a brace from the clinical Nikica Jelavic and a goal on the counter-attack by Jake Livermore pushed the visitors firmly into mid-table.
Cardiff, meanwhile, are deep in the relegation mire, down in 19th place, three points and nine goals from safety with 11 matches of the season left.
Bluebirds boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reverted to using Kenwyne Jones and top-scorer Fraizer Campbell up front, in pursuit of the cutting edge that has been lacking from his side's play for much of the season.
The pair had plenty of chances, but it was the same old story.
For every opportunity the home side squandered, Hull hit back with deadly accuracy.
The game started positively for Cardiff. Winger Wilfried Zaha had the first attempt on goal when his tame side-footer was easily saved by Allan McGregor.
And it was Zaha who twisted and turned past Curtis Davies, loanee Livermore and Alex Bruce before his venomous shot was palmed away.
The early onslaught continued when Jones showed his strength to bump off defender Maynor Figueroa and force a third early save from the busy McGregor.
The visitors broke the deadlock against the run of play in the 19th minute.
Norwegian Magnus Wolff Eikrem gave the ball away to Jelavic, who played a one-two with strike partner Shane Long, before selling a sweet dummy and forcing David Marshall to save with his feet. The ricocheted ball found Livermore on the edge of the box and he was able to tee up oncoming midfielder Huddlestone, whose low drive was deflected by full-back Andrew Taylor, bending it round the despairing Marshall.
Cardiff have now failed to score in 15 Premier League games this season - more than any other team. As the chances came and went, that unwanted burden continued to grow.
In the first half alone, Campbell headed straight at McGregor from a corner and nodded a Fabio cross over the bar. Jones had a shot blocked and headed wide as Hull continued to ride their luck.
But the Bluebirds were putting themselves in trouble by giving the ball away cheaply and, when they did, the Tigers were ready to pounce.
The visitors were more than happy to take what Cardiff threw at them and retaliate with interest on the counter.
It was the dangerous Jelavic who extended his side's lead in the 38th minute, following a comfortable one-two with his strike partner.
Picking the ball up on the break, the Croatian played it down the left channel to Long, who had plenty of time to return the favour as the home midfield failed to track Jelavic's run. He took his chance with ease, side-footing it home.
The Bluebirds felt aggrieved at the hands of referee Howard Webb, who in the first half turned down penalty claims from winger Craig Noone and later Jones, when Jelavic appeared to climb over him in the box. Webb felt both were fair challenges.
In his programme notes, Solskjaer urged his players to show calmness, maturity and patience. All three were tested in the second period as the minutes ticked by but the zero next to their name on the stadium's scoreboard continued to loom large.
Jelavic had no problem changing the digits for Hull, however.
On 57 minutes, he finished off a curling cross from the unchallenged Liam Rosenior, glancing an unmarked header into the far corner.
Then, when Bluebirds full back Andrew Taylor surrendered the ball in the Hull half, Ahmed Elmohamady charged forward and found Livermore on the edge of the area to make it 4-0.
With the Tigers out of sight, Cardiff pressed for a consolation, but Noone and Campbell both wasted chances.
But not since Cambridge won 4-0 at Ninian Park back in April 2000 have the Bluebirds suffered such a heavy home defeat.