Jelavic, N'Doye help Hull earn three points over struggling Aston Villa
Hull City sealed a precious 2-0 victory over Aston Villa on Tuesday in a game between two sides battling to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
Villa came into the clash without a victory in their last nine league games, and you could see why, as they rarely threatened the Hull goal all evening. Nikica Jelavic's deflected strike after 22 minutes gave the hosts a lead that they never really looked like losing.
Christian Benteke's arrival failed to spark the visitors into life, and Dame N'Doye's first goal for Hull on his full debut sealed a vital three points for the Tigers in the second half. Steve Bruce's side managed only their third home win of the season, and such an important one at that.
The Tigers moved up to 15th in the Premier League table as a result, and Villa, whose fans held up a 'Lambert Out' banner for most of the match, edged closer to relegation. After an improved performance against league leaders Chelsea at the weekend, the traveling Villa support were certainly expecting a more spirited showing than they have had to endure of late.
However, from the word go, Villa severely lacked a cutting edge, and it was full debutant N’Doye, who signed from Lokomotiv Moscow in January, who gave the game some attacking intent and he was heavily involved in the opener. Goalkeeper Allan McGregor launched the ball upfield where N'Doye cushioned it with a neat first touch before threading a pass for Jelavic, who shot low, but was fortunate to see a huge deflection off Ciaran Clark loop gently into the roof of the net.
Villa offered little in return. They had a solitary chance to level before the break, Tom Huddlestone conceding a free-kick in an inviting position, but Carles Gil's effort curled a yard wide. After the interval it was more of the same. Lambert made the logical switch at halftime, Benteke coming on for the ineffective Andreas Weimann. Villa needed the Belgian to rediscover his best form, but he was again starved of service.
Robbie Brady shot just wide as Hull looked to extend their lead, and the home fans didn't have to wait long to have their nerves settled.
Ahmed Elmohamady's cross and Gaston Ramirez's header combined to pick out N'Doye at the far post and although his instinctive first attempt was smothered at point-blank range by Brad Guzan, the ball fell perfectly for the Senegalese hitman and he slotted his second attempt coolly into the net.
McGregor denied Villa a much-needed goal, beating out Ashley Westwood's drive then recovering to palm Benteke's follow-up over the bar in the dying embers of the match, but Lambert's men must realise quickly they are involved in a relegation battle, and have to improve quickly.