MICHAEL Dawson’s first-half header sunk woeful Liverpool at the KC Stadium and lifted Hull to the brink of Barclays Premier League safety.
The Tigers captain timed his move to perfection to power home a cross by Ahmed Elmohamady and ultimately take his side four points clear of the relegation zone with four games to play and effectively end Liverpool’s slim Champions League hopes.
But Dawson’s effort capped a magnificent effort by the hosts who dominated from start to finish and successfully built on their 2-0 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday.
For a large part they looked simply unrecognisable from a side whose run of six games without a win looked to have left them relegation certainties as recently as last week.
Liverpool, without Steven Gerrard whom boss Brendan Rodgers indicated was being rested for the increasingly inconsequential run-in, looked rudderless and ill-equipped to cope with the hosts’ attacking intent.
The visitors did briefly threaten through the energetic Glen Johnson down the left, while Philippe Coutinho came close when he scythed a shot which forced a fine reflex save from Steve Harper.
But the sporadic threat summoned by Rodgers’ men did not faze Hull.
Mignolet punched away a dangerous Robbie Brady free-kick and was grateful for a poor follow-up by James Chester, before Mario Balotelli tried a pointless back-heel 20 yards from Harper’s goal which summed up his dismal contribution to first-half proceedings.
Mignolet pulled off a superb double-save to deny first Jake Livermore then Aluko in a mighty goalmouth scramble, then had to pluck a dangerous Stephen Quinn cross from the air as the hosts continued to press.
The goal the Tigers richly deserved arrived in the 36th minute when Elmohamady lofted the ball back into the box and Dawson timed his move to perfection to spring the offside trap and belt a firm header past the visiting keeper.
Despite a quieter start to the second period, it was still City who were showing the greater desire and Mignolet had to be alert to pluck the ball off the head of N’Doye after another fine cross from the left by Elmohamady.
The inevitably nervy last few minutes saw Sterling shoot straight at Harper while Tom Huddlestone could have sealed it before referee Lee Probert’s whistle sparked jubilation.