Blackburn Rovers moved back into second place in the Championship after a controlled match against Hull City secured a fourth win in a row.
Sammie Szmodic’s classy finish early in the first half proved enough as Rovers comfortably kept a disappointing Tigers team at bay.
Top goalscorer Ben Brereton Diaz and Sam Gallagher were denied further goals after the break with a smart stop from Nathan Baxter.
Hull never threatened to repeat their win over Rovers in last season’s corresponding fixture in January – after owner Acun Ilicali completed his takeover – failing to score all afternoon as Jacob Greaves and Dimitrios Pelkas missed free-kicks.
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 in the side after missing last Saturday’s win over Birmingham – epitomizing their confidence in possession and he finished a sweet move to put the visitors ahead.
Receiving a perfectly timed pass from Adam Wharton outside 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 they posed only the occasional threat in the first half with Thomas Kaminski heading in Ryan Longman’s early cross and Greaves curling wide at his best. .
They were lucky not to fall behind just before half-time when Baxter saved Brereton Diaz’s shot from 12 yards after poor defending.
Caretaker boss Andy Dawson made a double change at the break in an attempt to boost Hull’s lackluster play and it appeared to be having an effect, only for Greaves from a corner and the onrushing Pelkas to waste good chances with headers.
Baxter then had to be at his best to prevent Rovers extending their lead – parrying Brereton Diaz’s effort from 12 yards before denying Gallagher in a one-on-one after being found by the Chile striker.
Hull enjoyed increasing possession as the match wore on but suffered their first defeat in three games after Rovers were in no mood to relinquish their narrow advantage.
Interim Hull boss Andy Dawson told BBC Radio Humberside:
“I was disappointed with the first half – we showed them too much respect, we were certainly not aggressive enough.
“I think one thing we’ve done really impressively recently is keep the ball and I think we’ve 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 those are small differences – we came up against a really good team today.”
Blackburn Rovers head coach Jon Dahl Tomasson told BBC Radio Lancashire:
“I think it was deserved – a big credit to the players.
“We had tactics in the first half, controlled the game and scored a great goal – we should have scored more and killed the game before half-time.
“It was a great win and a good performance.”
They set up
- 6FigueiredoBooked for 78 minutesReplaced byCoyleat 90′minutes
- 5JonesReplaced byFlemingat 45′minutes
- 24SeriReplaced byTufanat 45′minutes
- 15WoodsBooked in 29 minutes
- 8DochertyReplaced byEstupiñánat 67′minutes
- 16LongmanReplaced bySinikat 80′minutes
- 16WhartonBooked for 61 min
- 36WhartonReplaced byAyalaat 62′minutes
- 10DolanReplaced byCarterat 62′minutes
- 8SzmodicsReplaced byDackat 71′minutes
- 9GallagherReplaced byValeat 71′minutes
- David Webb
Full time, Hull City 0, Blackburn Rovers 1.
Second half finished, 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 Dogukan Sinik (Hull City).
Lewis Travis (Blackburn Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Hull City. Submitted by Daniel Ayala.
Handball by Ben Brereton (Blackburn Rovers).
Attempt failed. Regan Slater (Hull City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Dimitris Pelkas.
Substitution, Hull City. Dogukan Sinik replaces Ryan Longman.
Foul by Dominic Hyam (Blackburn Rovers).
Dimitris Pelkas (Hull City) takes the free kick on the left wing.
Tobias Figueiredo (Hull City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Tyler Morton (Blackburn Rovers) wins a free kick in the defence.
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.