Brendan Rodgers claimed to draw inspiration from Coronation Street in a left-field eulogy to Britain's longest-running soap before kick-off. Managing a Liverpool team with all the vision and footwork of Alan Bradley as he careered into a tram on Blackpool promenade was not what he had in mind.
"We'll see in May how good our own soap opera is," the Liverpool manager had said. On a dark afternoon in Hull it was lamentable. Steve Bruce's tactically tweaked, supremely motivated side capitalised to record Hull City's first victory over Liverpool and leave Rodgers sweating at the thought of a demanding winter programme without Daniel Sturridge.
The England striker will be out for "six to eight weeks" with an ankle ligament strain, according to Rodgers. His bulletin set the tone for a miserable day for the visitors from Anfield, who offered little threat and were defensively inept against a Hull team with only four home league goals before the game.
Rodgers insisted "the bigger picture" should be considered when dissecting a collective off-day from Liverpool and gave thanks to impending home games against Norwich City and West Ham United. But that would be to overlook several glaring deficiencies in the Liverpool squad and performance. The loss of Sturridge and, for 66 minutes, Philippe Coutinho to another ankle problem naturally disturbed the flow and penetration of Rodgers's team. But further upheaval was unnecessary, principally the decision to recall Kolo Touré at the surprising expense of Daniel Agger and therefore shift Martin Skrtel across central defence.
Skrtel inadvertently deflected two of Hull's goals beyond his own goalkeeper as Liverpool's defence crumbled around him. Raheem Sterling and Victor Moses were given opportunities they have craved and only served to increase Rodgers's torment over the injuries to Sturridge and Coutinho. In stark contrast, Hull retained their focus impressively in the face of their own potential distractions, not least the owner Assem Allam's ridiculous attempt to rebrand the club Hull Tigers.
City, that's Hull City, had lost their previous two matches and Bruce switched to the insurance of a three-man central defence against Luis Suárez. Hull coped comfortably before the second-half move to a 4-3-3 and were ahead with their first shot on target. Curtis Davies glanced the game's opening chance wide of Simon Mignolet's goal before Moses lost possession cheaply inside the Liverpool half. Jake Livermore took over, exchanged passes with David Meyler and tried his luck from 22 yards. Luck was on the midfielder's side and the ball looped over Mignolet via Skrtel's calf.
Bruce was submerged beneath his coaching staff in the celebrations but, having seen Hull stifle the Liverpool attack, he was rightly infuriated by one moment's lapse in concentration. Hull's defenders hesitated a fraction too long over a loose ball outside their area, allowing Jordan Henderson to intercept prior to a clattering foul from Davies. Steven Gerrard swept an emphatic free-kick around a crumbling wall – constructing one appears a lost art in the Premier League at present – and into the bottom corner of Allan McGregor's goal.
Parity did nothing to improve the Liverpool performance and it was Hull who showed more composure on the ball plus intent in the final third. Davies went close with another header, Tom Huddlestone almost capped a fine display with a goal from 20 yards and, after McGregor saved superbly at point-blank range from Moses, the home side regained a deserved lead. Weak defending from Liverpool proved a valuable assist. Davies and Yannick Sagbo caused chaos under a long ball into the visitors' area and Touré flicked a poor clearance straight to Meyler who, after one blocked attempt, drove his second bite low into the far corner.
Suárez almost levelled with his latest sweeping free-kick from distance but the clearer chances came to Hull against a ponderous Liverpool defence. Sagbo should have scored, or at least squared to Ahmed Elmohamady, when sent clear after the Liverpool substitute Luis Alberto lost possession, but the striker made amends seconds later. Collecting a hopeful clearance downfield, Sagbo attacked Skrtel and eventually found Huddlestone arriving in the area. The midfielder's tame flick was heading wide until Skrtel threw himself in the way and diverted a shot beyond his own goalkeeper for the second time. It was a soap opera with no redeeming features for Liverpool.
Man of the match Tom Huddlestone (Hull City)