Crystal Palace secured their own Premier League survival and confirmed Hull City’s relegation to the Championship with a 4-0 demolition at Selhurst Park on Sunday afternoon.
Knowing that they would go down if defeated, the visitor’s afternoon got off to the worst possible start when Wilfried Zaha capitalised on a defensive error to slot home after just two minutes.
Things began to look even bleaker for Hull City when Christian Benteke’s bullet header doubled the advantage, before Marco Silva’s side were denied a clear penalty when Jason Puncheon hand-balled.
Yet gaps appeared as the visitors pushed forward, and Luka Milovojevic’s late penalty and Patrick van Aarnholt’s injury-time strike topped off a miserable afternoon – and a miserable season – for Hull.
Hull’s woeful away form costs them top-flight status
Hull City’s relegation straight back to the Championship was confirmed on Sunday afternoon as a poor first-half display proved too difficult to over-turn at Selhurst Park.
Relegation to the Championship seems harsh on Hull City boss Marco Silva, who has transformed the side since arriving over Christmas, but even he was unable to fix the Tigers’ woeful away record.
In 19 fixtures on the road this season Hull have only managed one victory – which came in their opening away trip to Swansea City – and ended the season losing 15 of their last 18 away matches.
Even since Silva took over Hull have only recorded two points from a possible 24 since his first away defeat at Stamford Bridge, finding the back of the net just three times during this period.
It seems a shame that – despite winning six of his eight matches at the KCOM since his arrival – Silva’s legacy will be known for losing their top-flight status; but Hull just haven’t been good enough.
Crystal Palace’s big players step up at the right time
Ask anybody who Crystal Palace’s main men have been during their battle to avoid the drop this year, and the majority would undoubtedly come out with Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke.
It was perhaps fitting then that, inside 35 first-half minutes, Palace’s impregnable duo came up with the goods when it mattered and scored a goal apiece to mathematically secure the Eagles’ survival.
Zaha capitalised on a horrible defensive slip from Andrea Ranocchia to give the hosts the lead after just 133 seconds, before Benteke powered in unmarked for his seventh header of the campaign.
Benteke’s effort also took his tally to 15 Premier League goals – the most he’s scored in a campaign since his debut season in 2012/13 – and the impact his physical presence up front has had cannot be underestimated.
The downside for Sam Allardyce is that, with these two performing so consistently this year, there’s almost certainly set to be interest in the summer – particularly in Wilfried Zaha’s case with North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham set to battle it out – but for now, it’s time to celebrate their great escape.
Hull City’s defence isn’t up to the job
Hull City’s defensive frailties were exploited once again at Selhurst Park as Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke ensured that their next season will be spent back in the Championship.
The hosts’ opener was crafted from an individual error by Andrea Ranocchia, slipping and allowing Zaha all of the time in the world to compose himself and slot under Eldin Jakupovic, whilst Hull’s zonal marking failed once again as Christian Benteke freely nodded home.
Marco Silva’s insistency on maintaining a zonal marking system from set-pieces this season has horribly back-fired, with 21 of their 73 goals conceded coming from opposition dead ball situations alone.
Hull’s misery was then simply compounded late on as they were caught on the counter twice by Palace – although by that point the away side looked defeated and resigned to their fate.
The 4-0 defeat at Selhurst Park now means that Hull City have conceded 73 goals this season, more than any other side in the league; and it’s these issues at the back that have ultimately cost them.
Should Marco Silva remain in charge for the start of the Championship season in August – which is by no means a dead cert – then he’ll have no choice but to make heavy investment in the back four.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Christine Sanjaya.