Hull City keeper Eldin Jakupovic edged the Tigers closer to Premier League survival with a stoppage-time penalty save, which earned his side a point at Southampton and relegated bottom club Sunderland.
The Tigers had to better Sunderland’s result to see off one of their relegation rivals but looked to also be heading for defeat as as Alfred N’Diaye was penalised for holding centre-back Maya Yoshida in the area on 90 minutes.
However, Dusan Tadic saw his low effort to the bottom right of the goal superbly saved by Jakupovic as Hull claimed only their sixth away point of the season to move three points clear of the drop.
It was an unexpected finish to an otherwise uninspiring game with Kamil Grosicki going closest for the visitors as he hit the post with a free-kick on six minutes.
Where they lacked attacking fluency, Marco Silva’s side were impressive in defence, with Harry Maguire making several crucial blocks.
Admittedly the visitors had little to deal with too – only Middlesbrough and Sunderland have scored fewer goals at home than Southampton this season and again Claude Puel’s side struggled to create anything of note.
Hull resolute on the road at last
Up until N’Diaye’s ill-advised tussle with Yoshida which resulted in a spot-kick, Hull were excellent in defence, rarely making an error.
The defensive organisation Silva has brought to this side has been more evident at home, but a team that had leaked 41 away goals prior to this game finally showed nous on the road too.
Their gritty display was epitomised by a towering performance from captain Maguire, who made two excellent tackles on Sofiane Boufal and Tadic to help limit Southampton to just two shots on target.
Hull only had one shot on target themselves, and away goals remain an issue for a side who have scored only nine all season – fewer than any other side.
Oumar Niasse should have scored his side’s 10th but blasted an effort high over the bar late on after being found in space by replacement Markus Henriksen’s knockdown.
Defeat, however, would have been an overly harsh punishment following that miss, and fortunately for all at Hull, Jakupovic guessed correctly to increase the pressure on 18th-placed Swansea ahead of their tie at Manchester United on Sunday.
Sick of home Saints
There was a smattering of boos directed at the departing Saints players at half-time as the home crowd aired their frustration at a side which once again lacked creativity in front of goal.
Jakupovic’s save means Southampton have gone goalless in three of their last four home games, having scored just 17 times at St Mary’s all season.
Manolo Gabbiadini was kept quiet by his compatriot Andrea Ranocchia, while record signing Boufal again struggled as both were withdrawn as part of a double change for Josh Sims and Shane Long.
That injection of youth and pace failed to inspire Southampton, as they resorted to firing efforts high and wide of the Hull goal.
Ninth-placed Saints, however, can again secure a top-half finish despite the sale of key players and the long-standing injury to standout centre-back Virgil van Dijk.
But with three of their five remaining games coming at home – including the visits of top-four chasing Manchester United and Arsenal – Puel needs to find a quick remedy to Southampton’s home woes to prevent them sliding down the table.
Hull don’t pay the penalty – match stats
- Hull picked up only their second point on the road under Marco Silva in the top-flight this season (eight away games played).
- Southampton have enjoyed only two victories in their last eight Premier League home games (D2 L4).
- No team has failed to score in as many away games as Hull in the Premier League this season (10, same as Middlesbrough and Sunderland).
- Eldin Jakupovic registered his second penalty save of the season in the Premier League, no other keeper has more.
- The Tigers have conceded a league-high 12 penalties this season, with 10 of them successfully converted by their opponents.
- Indeed, those 12 penalties are the most conceded by any team in a single Premier League campaign.
Southampton travel to Liverpool on Sunday, 7 May, with kick-off at 13:30 BST. Hull City host now-relegated Sunderland a day earlier at 15:00 BST.