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Substitute Oumar Niasse scored two goals as Hull City secured a potentially crucial victory over fellow Premier League strugglers Swansea.
The 26-year-old, on loan from Everton, had only been on the pitch six minutes when he latched on to Abel Hernandez’s pass and slotted past Swans keeper Lukasz Fabianski.
The Senegal forward’s second came just nine minutes later, with a close-range finish from fellow substitute Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross.
It was a nervy finish at the KCOM Stadium, as Swansea defender Alfie Mawson pulled one back in injury time.
The Swans had enjoyed the better chances earlier in the game, but struggled without top scorer Fernando Llorente, who was forced off with an injury at the end of the first half.
The Tigers remain in the bottom three, one point from safety, but moved to within three points of Swansea, who remain in 16th.
Silva the saviour?
Hull were bottom of the table and three points from safety when former Sporting Lisbon and Olympiakos boss Marco Silva was appointed in January.
The 39-year-old Portuguese’s first game in charge resulted in a 2-0 win over Swansea in the FA Cup third round.
Fast forward nine weeks and the Tigers are within one point of safety with 10 games still to play after Silva’s second win over the Swans.
Silva’s decision to replace Alfred N’Diaye with Niasse proved to be a masterstroke, as the substitute showcased his potential when it really mattered.
Hull’s home form will be vital in their survival, with all three of their Premier League victories under Silva coming at the KCOM, the same number they had won in their previous 16.
With relegation-threatened Middlesbrough and Sunderland still to play at home, Silva can still believe he has a chance of keeping Hull in the top flight – a task many thought was impossible when he took over.
Swans hit by injuries at the wrong time
Injury problems are coming at the wrong stage of the season for Swansea, with boss Paul Clement forced to make two changes before the end of the first half.
Top scorer Fernando Llorente limped off after a Tom Huddlestone challenge left him with a dead leg just before half-time.
Swansea clearly struggled without the in-form Spaniard, who had scored three goals in his previous two Premier League appearances, and managed just three shots on target in the match, compared with Hull’s seven.
Their first real chance of the game fell to Wayne Routledge after Eldin Jakupovic’s spilled save fell perfectly into his path, but somehow the 28-year-old blasted his effort over the bar from 10 yards out.
Right-back Angel Rangel, who started in place of the injured Kyle Naughton, was forced off midway through the first half after twisting his ankle in an attempt to tackle Kamil Grosicki.
However, Hull have had injury problems of their own and Marco Silva has been without key players Moses Odubajo, Will Keane, Markus Henriksen, Ryan Mason, Michael Dawson and Dieumerci Mbokani.
Man of the match – Oumar Niasse (Hull City)
Former England defender Martin Keown on Match of the Day
When Marco Silva changed Hull’s formation and brought Oumar Niasse on, that made the complete difference. Niasse came out with a point to prove and boy has he proved it. They were two massive goals he got for his team today.
What they said
Hull City manager Marco Silva: “We got three important points, of course I am happy. It was a tough, tough game. We improved in the second half and after that we controlled the game.
“I’m not happy with the last five minutes to give gifts to the opponent. The game only finishes when the referee gives the sign.
“In the first half we had chances, and in the second half we improved our attitude and scored two goals. It is a fair result for us. We work two systems and the players know what we want.
“We need to take points away from home as well, it is difficult.”
Swansea City boss Paul Clement: “The way we defended was not good enough. For long periods we looked like we were in control of the game and we were creating opportunities on the counter-attack.
“Two injuries in the first half have hurt us and in the second half we were limited to what we could do. Martin Olsson got hurt and we had to play with an injured player for the rest of the game. Overall we have to be disappointed with how they scored and how open we were.
“Fernando Llorente has been a key player to us recently and gives us lots of different threats, I don’t think it is serious, I think he has a dead leg, Angel Rangel’s is an injury to the ankle, I’m not sure how serious that one is. Martin got a knock on his ankle, he was not 100% but was able to continue.
“There’s a lot of football to be played. I didn’t think we were anywhere near safe and we are not anywhere near safe now. We have 10 games to go and have to bounce back next week against Bournemouth.
Super sub Niasse – the stats
- All three of Oumar Niasse’s Premier League goals for Hull City have been as a substitute.
- The Swans have lost their past three visits to the KCOM Stadium, each in a different competition.
- Swansea have now conceded 61 goals this season. No side to have conceded 60 or more goals after 28 games of a Premier League season has stayed up.
- Swansea have now conceded more goals in the final 30 minutes of games than any other Premier League side this season (29).
- Gylfi Sigurdsson has provided more assists than any other Premier League player this season (11).