HULL CITY: Jakupovic's glaring error condemns City to shock defeat
HULL City fell to their first defeat since November 24 as strugglers Sheffield Wednesday secured a 3-1 victory at the KC Stadium this evening.
Although Robert Koren's header cancelled out Reda Johnson's first-half opener with seven minutes left on the clock, a glaring error from Eldin Jakupovic gifted the Owls a dreadful second goal.
Michail Antonio's break sealed a shock win in stoppage time before Jay Simpson's missed penalty summed up a wretched evening for the Tigers.
Surrendering the Championship's longest unbeaten run with arguably their worst performance of the season, City's automatic promotion hopes suffered an unlikely dent in front of the Sky television cameras.
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Steve Bruce's men began the game buoyed by slip-ups suffered by their promotion rivals. Afternoon defeats for Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough left the door open for the Tigers to put clear daylight between themselves and the chasing play-off pack.
The incentive was great but a poor first-half performance ensured their task against lowly Wednesday was anything but straightforward.
Despite reverting to the same starting XI that thumped Leeds two weeks ago, the Tigers looked distinctly off colour against their well-drilled guests from South Yorkshire.
Jakupovic produced an excellent save to deny Jermaine Johnson's long-range drive, but City's fortune expired midway through the first half.
Rhys McCabe's outstanding free-kick from the Wednesday left flank scrambled the Tigers' defensive line and allowed Reda Johnson to head in the opening goal when unmarked from six yards out.
Wednesday sensed an upset and twice came close to doubling their lead before the break.
A rapid break from Jermaine Johnson saw the forward feed attacking partner Michail Antonio but a heavy touch invited Jakupovic to smother the opening. The City keeper needed to be alert soon after to turn Jermaine Johnson's low shot around the post.
Bruce's men at least showed signs of life late in the half. Stephen Quinn's header fizzed wide of the goal before Sone Aluko worked Chris Kirkland from the edge of the box.
The best chance, however, belonged to Koren. Aluko's flick carved open the Wednesday defence but when the City captain only had Kirkland to beat, he fired straight at the keeper.
City's frustrations grew after the break as a sloppy passing game punctured their advances time after time.
Wednesday thought they had doubled their advantage just before the hour mark. Giles Coke prodded the ball past Jakupovic inside a crowded box to spark wild celebrations but the Tigers' goalkeeper enjoyed a huge slice of luck when he was generously awarded a free-kick.
If the visitors were livid at a perceived injustice, it failed to knock them out of their stride.
The Tigers' best attempts to find an equaliser were unconvincing and Kirkland was largely able to enjoy an incident-free second half.
Jay Simpson and Nick Proschwitz were both introduced as City went for broke and the gamble eventually paid off as the Tigers broke Wednesday's spirit seven minutes from time. Elmohamady's cross found Koren and the skipper's clever header wrong-footed Kirkland.
However, any hope of salvation lasted little more than a minute.
A routine corner from Miguel Llera appeared destined for Jakupovic's arms but the goalkeeper inexplicably contrived to drop the ball over his own line.
A kick to the shoulder forced Jakupovic off on a stretcher but his replacement, Mark Oxley, could do nothing about Wednesday's third in injury time.
Antonio's break left defender's trailing in his wake and he neatly rounded Oxley to kill off City's hopes once and for all.
Jay Simpson's missed penalty at the death put the lid on a desperately disappointing fixture for the Tigers.