Eldin Jakupovic's heroics help Hull inch towards Premier League survival
Hull City took another step towards Premier League survival after Eldin Jakupovic's 90th minute penalty save earned a precious point and goalless draw at Southampton on Saturday.
Jakupovic's late heroics, keeping out Dusan Tadic's spot kick, gave the Tigers a deserved share of the spoils at St Mary's. It also ended a run of five straight away defeats, delivering what was only a second point away from the KCOM Stadium since mid-September.
City's performance throughout the first half was excellent. Controlling the rhythm of the game, Silva's side showed no signs of anxiety in a measured and purposeful display. Only the width of a post denied Kamil Grosicki what was so nearly an early opener.
Southampton improved after the break but City again showed the character needed not to buckle. Jakupovic took the headlines for his superb penalty save but the central defensive pairing of Harry Maguire and Andrea Ranocchia were just as impressive in recording back-to-back clean sheets. Southampton's clear sightings of goal could be counted on one hand.
Any criticism has to be tempered after such a dramatic point but City will have their regrets at not making their first-half performance count for more. The Tigers controlled the vast majority of the opening period, hogging possession against a host that prides itself on ball retention. Grosicki struck the post from a free-kick but Fraser Forster was barely tested as the final pass eluded Silva's men.
Evandro, the man deployed as a playmaker, left a minimal imprint on the game. That cutting edge, or lack of it, was the reason a draw never really looked like being turned into an enormous win.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Silva set up his side to control long spells of possession and for once away from home they delivered. His use of substitutions was questionable but none of the travelling supporters were complaining.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Eldin Jakupovic, 8 -- The fans' favourite took his popularity to new heights when saving superbly to keep out Tadic's 90th minute penalty to preserve his clean sheet. The only keeper in the Premier League to save two penalties this season.
DF Ahmed Elmohamady, 7 -- Two weeks after he was deemed unsuitable for the right-back role at Stoke, the Egyptian gave one of his best performances this season. Part of a strong unit and relished his adventures forward.
DF Harry Maguire, 8 -- The more he plays in the Premier League, the more you feel he's destined for bigger things than Hull City. Excellent in possession and came up with a number of key tackles, including one on Sofiane Boufal.
DF Andrea Ranocchia, 8 -- The Italian defender again showed why he has been City's best January addition, forming an uncompromising union with Maguire to keep Southampton at bay. Scarcely put a foot wrong.
DF Andy Robertson, 6 -- Occasionally slack in possession and fortunate to see Josh Sims not punish a poor clearance, but he was a key component in City's first half performance. Always willing to help Grosicki attack.
MF Lazar Markovic, 6 -- The on-loan winger showed flashes of his attacking ability, especially in the first half when stretching the Saints. No real end product but a work-rate that has been questionable could not be faulted.
MF Alfred N'Diaye, 6 -- A silly foul almost cost his side dearly when tangling with Maya Yoshida late on and that took some of the shine off a decent display in midfield. Imposed himself on Southampton with his physicality.
MF Sam Clucas, 7 -- The central midfielder saw plenty of the ball in the first half, setting the tempo and using possession wisely. Southampton's improvements required defensive discipline and he duly stepped up.
MF Evandro, 5 -- There was some promise from the Brazilian early on but there continues to be a lack of impact overall. He was supposed to be the one that played with guile but he never once found an incisive pass.
MF Kamil Grosicki, 7 -- The Polish winger was desperately close to his first Premier League goal when sending a curling free-kick against the post early on. Came close twice either side of that in a confident contribution.
FW Oumar Niasse, 6 -- Hard to think anyone worked harder than City's lone striker but he was easily contained by Southampton's well-drilled defence. A late chance was cleared off the line but it was a frustrating day.
MF Markus Henriksen, 6 -- A rare chance off the bench and set up Niasse's chance that went flying over the bar.
MF Tom Huddlestone, N/R -- Forced to watch on from the bench again and no real chance to make his mark.
DF Michael Dawson, N/R -- The club captain almost set up a winner when a glancing header found Niasse.
Philip Buckingham is ESPN FC's Hull City blogger. Follow him on Twitter: @PJBuckingham.