Blackburn Rovers climbed back into second place in the Championship after a commanding display against Hull City secured a fourth straight win.
Sammie Szmodic’s classy finish early in the first half proved enough as Rovers comfortably held off a disappointing Tigers side.
Top scorers Ben Brereton Diaz and Sam Gallagher were denied further goals after the break by smart saves from Nathan Baxter.
Hull never threatened to repeat their win against Rovers in last season’s corresponding fixture in January – after owner Acun Ilicali had taken over – failing to score efforts all afternoon as Jacob Greaves and Dimitrios Pelkas missed free headers.
Rovers’ 11th win of the season moves them back into second place, three points clear of Queens Park Rangers and two points behind leaders Burnley.
In-form Rovers started brightly with Szmodics – back on the sidelines after failing to beat Birmingham last Saturday – a testament to their confidence in possession and he finished off a sweet move to put the visitors ahead.
After receiving a perfectly weighted pass from Adam Wharton behind the Hull defence, Szmodics found the bottom left corner of the net with his right foot for his fourth goal of the season.
The Tigers were chasing a third straight win and back-to-back league victories over Blackburn for the first time since 1970, but posed only the occasional threat in the first half as Thomas Kaminski headed over Ryan Longman’s early cross and Greaves curled an effort wide at his best. .
They were lucky not to fall further just before half-time when Baxter pushed away Brereton Diaz’s shot from 12 yards after some poor defending.
Interim boss Andy Dawson made a double change at the break to improve Hull’s lackluster performance and it looked to be having an effect, only for Greaves’ corner and a pouncing Pelkasi to waste good chances with feints.
Baxter then had to be at his nimble best to prevent Rovers extending their lead – parrying Brereton Diaz’s effort from 12 yards before denying Gallagher in a one-on-one after the Chile striker found him.
Hull enjoyed more possession as the match wore on but suffered their first defeat in three games after Rovers refused to let go of their narrow advantage.
Hull interim boss Andy Dawson told BBC Radio Humberside:
“I was disappointed with the first half – we showed them too much respect, we weren’t really aggressive enough.
“I think the one thing we’ve done really impressively recently is keep possession and I think we turned it over too cheaply. That’s the last thing you want to do against a possession-based team.
“We had a really good second half and created a couple of great chances but they are small margins – we came up against a really good team today.”
Blackburn Rovers head coach Jon Dahl Tomasson told BBC Radio Lancashire:
– I think it was well deserved – big thanks to the players.
“We got the tactics right in the first half, controlled the game and scored a great goal – we should have done more and killed the game before half time.
– It was a great win and a good performance.
- 6FigueiredoBooked in 78 minutesWill be replacedCoyleat 90′minutes
- 5JonesWill be replacedFlemingat 45′minutes
- 24SeriWill be replacedTufaat 45′minutes
- 15WoodsBooked in 29 minutes
- 8DochertyWill be replacedEstupiñanat 67′minutes
- 16LongmanWill be replacedBlueat 80′minutes
- 16WhartonBooked in 61 minutes
- 36WhartonWill be replacedAyalaat 62′minutes
- 10DolanWill be replacedCarterat 62′minutes
- 8SzmodicsWill be replacedDuckat 71′minutes
- 9GallagherWill be replacedFakeat 71′minutes
- David Webb
Match ends, Hull City 0, Blackburn Rovers 1.
Second half ends, Hull City 0, Blackburn Rovers 1.
Attempt blocked. Ben Brereton (Blackburn Rovers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Foul by Ryan Woods (Hull City).
Bradley Dack (Blackburn Rovers) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Substitution, Hull City. Lewie Coyle replaces Tobias Figueiredo.
Foul by Doguka Sinik (Hull City).
Lewis Travis (Blackburn Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Hull City. Admitted by Daniel Ayala.
Handball by Ben Brereton (Blackburn Rovers).
The attempt failed. Regan Slater (Hull City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assistant Dimitris Pelkas.
Substitution, Hull City. Dogukan Sinik replaces Ryan Longman.
Foul by Dominic Hyam (Blackburn Rovers).
Dimitris Pelkas (Hull City) wins a free kick on the left.
Tobias Figueiredo (Hull City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Tyler Morton (Blackburn Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Tobias Figueiredo (Hull City).
Foul by Jack Vale (Blackburn Rovers).
Cyrus Christie (Hull City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Dominic Hyam (Blackburn Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.