Premier League champions Leicester lose opener to Hull City

  • Dhiman Sarkar, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
  • Updated: Aug 13, 2016 19:33 IST
Dejected Leicester City fans look on as the defending champions lose to Hull City in the Premier League opener on Saturday. (REUTERS)

Having won the Premiership as 5000-1 outsiders, Leicester City began the new season by doing something no reigning champions have. They lost. That to against a team that barely managed to put out a playing 11 and had been promoted to the top tier this time. The unexpected seems to be the new expected of the world’s most watched football league.

In a match that was barren for most of the first half before suddenly coming to life at the end when Adama Diomande was awarded a goal that looked like it could have gone to Abel Hernandez as well. The overhead kick looked like it had directed the ball into the far corner but it was adjudged that Diomande’s head had got the goal.

Minutes earlier, Kasper Schmeichel had been made to look silly from a corner-kick. The move that fetched the goal too came from a corner-kick, taken by Robert Snodgrass, easily the best player on the park in this early fixture.

Schmeichel too it was who can be blamed for the second goal Hull City scored; his urgency in trying to start a move backfiring when Leicester City failed to clear their lines. The ball fell kindly for Snodgrass and he took time before calmly aiming the left-footer into the bottom corner.

Between two goals from Hull City, Leicester City got theirs when Riyad Mahrez netted from a penalty-kick that may not have been awarded. Referee Mike Dean though thought that Demarai Gray was felled by Tom Huddlestone inside the area though television replays weren’t conclusive.

They could have got more in the first half during which Hull City, with only 13 players fit and available, sat deep initially. But Jamie Vardy, the man who scored for fun last term, missed an easy one from an Ahmed Musa assist in the 43rd minute.

Minutes earlier, Christian Fuchs, the first player to be booked this term, scythed through the left and was fed on by Musa. Left-back Fuchs shot was blocked as was Vardy’s stab before Mahrez shot wide.

It is proof of the kind of money that there is in the Premiership that Leicester City have so far lost only N’Golo Kante among the players who helped win last season.

It used to be said, only half in jest, that the world has 75% water and the rest of it is covered by Kante. Drinkwater and Mendy manned the Kante territory but it was not the central midfield but the defence that would worry Claudio Ranieri. Against Manchester United in the Community Shield, the backline looked iffy as it did against the Tigers on Saturday.

Wes Morgan was such a tower of strength in the inner defence for the Foxes and irrespective of whether ET lands again --- that’s the probability Ranieri has said of them retaining the title ---- he needs to anchor the backline for the champions to stay competitive.

For a team that beat all odds to win the title, it was imperative that Leicester City started well. Remember how poor Blackburn Rovers were in the season following their successful title bid? The team that lost three games in all of last season has begun with a defeat; their first loss since February.

Cinderella Hour over? We’ll get to know but trust the Premiership to better what the best scriptwriters could offer. Again.

Hull City's Robert Snodgrass and David Meyler celebrate at the end of the game. (REUTERS)

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