Hull City have been relegated from the Premier League after being beaten 4-0 by Crystal Palace. After Swansea’s victory over Sunderland on Saturday, the Tigers had to win at Selhurst Park to take the battle for survival to the final day of the season.
But they crashed to a heavy defeat in south London, with goals from Wilfried Zaha, Christian Benteke, Luka Milivojevic and Patrick van Aanholt securing Palace – and Swansea’s – safety. Hull join Middlesbrough and Sunderland in dropping into the Championship.
The victory for Palace, who only needed a draw to preserve their Premier League status, means Sam Allardyce maintains his remarkable record of never having been relegated from the top-flight. Bottom of the table at Christmas, Marco Silva’s arrival as manager in January had sparked a turnaround in Hull’s form – but survival always looked unlikely.
Knowing nothing but a win would keep their hopes alive for one more week, they made the worst possible start against Palace.
Scarcely two minutes had passed when the erratic Italian defender Andrea Ranocchia’s missed kick allowed Zaha directly through on goal, and from there the winger calmly finished beneath goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic.
It already appeared that by taking the lead the hardest part was done, and after a quiet period of play the home side added a second in the 34th minute. Jason Puncheon targeted Benteke with his inswinging, right-wing delivery and the Belgian’s powerful header, under minimal supervision from the Hull defence, had the beating of Jakupovic.
From that point on Hull had the air of a defeated team. Palace had no reason to play with ambition, knowing their visitors required a minimum of two goals, and defended with the organisation Allardyce has given them.
The Eagles continued to threaten on the counter-attack and the third goal was scored from the penalty spot by Milivojevic with five minutes left after Dawson tripped Jeffrey Schlupp in the box. The final blow to Silva’s side came in the last minute as James McArthur’s through-ball sent fellow substitute Van Aanholt clear to calmly place a shot beneath Jakupovic.
Hull, who will finish 18th, had begun the season with only 13 fit senior players, without a permanent manager and amid widespread predictions of relegation. Silva’s contract expires at the end of the season, and it would seem that keeping him on board represents Hull’s best chance of making an instant return to the top flight.