Croatian international striker Nikica Jelavic netted a double as Hull City took a major stride towards Premier League safety with a 4-0 win at fellow promoted side Cardiff City on Saturday.
The loss consigned Cardiff, managed by former Manchester United star Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, to second from bottom and the Welsh side face an uphill climb if they are to avoid returning to the Championship after just one season. Cardiff actually made the brighter start of the two, with Hull keeper Allan McGregor forced into two sharp saves in the space of a minute.
Cardiff winger Wilfried Zaha shredded the Hull defenze with a mazy run but could not beat the Scottish keeper. But Steve Bruce's Hull took the lead against the run of play in the 17th minute as former Spurs midfielder Tom Huddlestone smashed a low shot past the outstretched hand of David Marshall in the Cardiff goal. Cardiff continued to press and squandered a golden opportunity to equalize towards the end of the first half as striker Kenwyne Jones contrived to put a header wide from a matter of yards when it seemed easier to score.
The Welsh side's profligacy was immediately punished as Hull doubled their advantage within a minute with a classy move. Jelavic set Irish forward Shane Long breaking down the left, who then side footed a precision cross back to his provider who had continued his run. The Croat then slotted efficiently home.
Solskjaer rang the changes at half time as his side were booed off by the home faithful, bringing on Mats Daehli for Zaha. But it was Hull who looked the better side at the start of the second half as an unmarked Jelavic put a gilt-edged chance over the bar from the middle of the box. The Croatian made amends on 56 minutes, drilling a powerful header into the bottom right corner and compounding the home side's misery. And just when Cardiff thought things couldn't get any worse, a mix-up in midfield allowed Hull to steal possession. Huddlestone broke swiftly down the right and Jake Livermore finished the move with a calm right-footed into the bottom right corner.
The two sides were promoted from the second tier last season but Hull have fared marginally better in the Premiership, going into the match 13th while Cardiff languished second from bottom. Cardiff took to the pitch on the back of a woeful run of form, winning only one of their last 10 while Hull had one victory from seven.
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