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Page last updated at 19:03 GMT, Saturday, 25 April 2009 20:03 UK

Hull 1-3 Liverpool

By Mandeep Sanghera

Xabi Alonso powers Liverpool into the lead as he helps Liverpool to a win over Hull
Alonso unleashes the shot which gave Liverpool the lead

Liverpool maintained their title hopes with a win at relegation-threatened Hull who finished the game with 10 men.

Xabi Alonso powered in a thunderous strike after his initial free-kick was blocked to put the visitors ahead.

On the hour, Caleb Folan was sent-off for kicking out at Martin Skrtel, whose mis-timed shot was headed in by Dirk Kuyt to make it 2-0.

Geovanni slotted in to revive Hull's hopes of a draw but Kuyt hit his second when Alvaro Arbeloa's shot fell to him.

Hull were left aggrieved by some of referee Martin Atkinson's decisions but their performance should give manager Phil Brown optimism that they can avoid relegation.

The last time these teams met the Tigers drew 2-2 at Anfield on 13 December to pick up their 27th point and sit comfortably in the top half of the table.


But in 16 games since then they have won just once and earned just seven points, leaving them hovering precariously above the bottom three.

Fernando Torres had a 10-yard angled sidefoot tipped over by keeper Boaz Myhill but having survived that early scare Hull quickly set about their task.

They snapped into tackles as they closed Liverpool down with an urgency and passion.

The in-form Yossi Benanyoun was one of the few Liverpool players able to keep possession and he went close when he curled a strike on to the roof of the net.

Hull responded with a Geovanni piledriver that flew past the angle of Jose Reina's goal and a Liverpool defence that has conceded eight goals in their last two matches was looking shaky.

Benitez unhappy with Hull's 'terrible' pitch

And Arbeloa had to clear a goalbound Dean Marney header as Liverpool continued to give Hull plenty of reason for optimism.

At the other end, Hull had a discipline and organisation that Liverpool were struggling to break through.

Alonso is renowned for his ability to pick a pass but was continually frustrated as he tried to pick a way through the Hull's defence.

In the end, it was not the Spaniard's guile and vision that breached the Tigers defence but pure power after the Reds were awarded a dubious free-kick for a George Boateng challenge on Javier Mascherano.

Alonso's initial effort was blocked by the wall but he half-volleyed the rebound unerringly into the bottom corner.

Hull's cause was not helped when Folan - being blocked from chasing a backpass by Skrtel - kicked out at the centre-back and was deservedly red-carded.

It got worse when Benayoun's cross was only cleared to Skrtel, whose shot was diverted past keeper Myhill by Kuyt's header.

Hull undone by 'poor decision' - Brown

Hull were clearly unhappy with the performance of referee Atkinson and felt there had been a handball by Lucas Leiva in the build up to Liverpool's second goal.

But the home side kept fighting and were rewarded with Geovanni's goal from Daniel Cousin's cross to set up a frantic finish.

Torres stuck the woodwork with a header before Hull's hopes were ended when Kuyt struck his second to briefly move Liverpool top on goal difference ahead of Manchester United's 5-2 victory over Tottenham.

Hull boss Phil Brown:
"We were having to pick players up at half-time after an injustice was done.

"We knew it was going to be tough and somebody has let them off the hook. I cannot see a free-kick there.

"I have no excuses for the sending off. I feel it was justified and it will be dealt with in-house. That killed us, 10 against 11, and Caleb made it a little bit easier for them."

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez hailed Dirk Kuyt:
"Everybody is very pleased for him.

"Kuyt is a fantastic professional and is always working hard to score. He was very positive and we are really pleased for him.

"We were working very hard and we have to be satisfied. We were nervous because the pitch was terrible and difficult to pass on."

Hull: Myhill, Ricketts, Zayatte, Turner, Kilbane, Fagan (Mendy 62), Boateng (Manucho 79), Marney, Geovanni, Barmby (Cousin 62), Folan.
Subs Not Used: Duke, Hughes, Garcia, Halmosi.

Sent Off: Folan (59).

Booked: Marney, Barmby, Fagan.

Goals: Geovanni 72.

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Insua, Kuyt (Dossena 90), Alonso, Mascherano (El Zhar 84), Benayoun (Agger 87), Lucas, Torres.
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Riera, Aurelio, Ngog.

Booked: Arbeloa.

Goals: Alonso 45, Kuyt 63, 89.

Att: 24,942

Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Liverpool's Xabi Alonso (7.91 on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Premier League as it happened
25 Apr 09 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
25 Apr 09 |  Premier League

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