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Hull City take an early lead, Manchester United hit back

Dec 26, 2013, 8:10 AM EDT

Can the Tigers get it going again as the reigning champs roll into town? Getty Images

It took less than five minutes for Hull City to take the lead against the visiting Manchester United. The hosts then scored another before fifteen minutes were out, giving Steve Bruce a rather surprising late Christmas present.

The referee called for a corner after a collision between Tom Cleverley and Ahmed Elmohamady put the ball out of play. Tom Huddlestone‘s kick put the ball perfectly into the center of the box, where Alex Bruce easily leapt over Patrice Evra to get his head on the end of the cross. Former Manchester United trainee James Chester slipped through the United defense unmarked to volley the ball past David De Gea.

There’s a bit of controversy behind this early opener. Upon review of the clash between Cleverley and Elmohamady, it was clear that it wasn’t Cleverley’s slide that knocked the ball out of play. Instead it was clear that Elmohamady kicked it into the stands.

But there’s nothing controversial about the second goal — it came courtesy of a simple error by Jonny Evans. A shot from David Meyler didn’t look all that threatening, but the United defense were unable to clear the ball. After a bit of pinball inside the area, Evans got a foot to it, knocking it past De Gea.

United are only down by two, but considering the performance of their defense in the opening 15 minutes, you had to wonder if they can come back to get anything from this match. What will David Moyes do now? He replaced the injured Rafael with Adnan Januzaj to provide more attack in his squad. Just a minute later, the youngster won a free kick on the right wing.

This time it was Hull’s defense that fell apart. Chris Smalling received little resistance as he rose up to get his head on the end of Wayne Rooney‘s free kick, easily nodding in the goal. Will it be so simple for Manchester United to get another? Or, indeed, to pull ahead?

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