Nigel: My red-hot Bowen is not going
HULL boss Nigel Adkins insists Jarrod Bowen is going nowhere, after the winger’s double helped the red-hot Tigers to a sixth successive league win.
Bowen has been tracked by Premier League clubs and he showed why again, with a long-range strike and coolly taken penalty aagainst Sheffield Wednesday.
Fraizer Campbell added to the outclassed Owls’ pain by smashing in a third.
The Tigers were in the relegation zone at the start of December but have rocketed up to 10th place in the Championship.
Bowen has nine goals in eight games and has been a key figure in Hull’s climb.
Adkins said: “It’s perfectly clear – in this window, no players are going. We want Jarrod and all of the players to go to the highest level. We want them to develop and improve.
“We dominated this game from start to finish and should have scored more. It was entertaining to watch.”
The Tigers – just four points adrift of the play-off places after their best run in 14 years – have not conceded a goal in three league games.
Bowen’s first goal came just before half-time when he cut inside and unleashed a curling effort from 20 yards.
He struck again in the 52nd minute, sending Keiren Westwood the wrong way from the penalty spot after the busy Wednesday keeper brought down Chris Martin.
Substitute Campbell had only been on the pitch a few minutes when he added Hull’s third with an angled effort to punish some poor defending.
The striker had been left on the bench to be kept fresh and celebrated his goal by doing some press-ups – and there was no doubt he looked razor-sharp.
The visitors were left licking their wounds after their four-game unbeaten league run was ended and incoming manager Steve Bruce has some serious repair work to do when he takes charge next month.
Caretaker boss Steve Agnew – formerly Bruce’s assistant at Hull – said: “It was tough to say the least. We were never in the game.”
THE mini rot is over for Liverpool as their title ship avoided hitting the rocks at Brighton.
It took Mo Salah’s second-half penalty, which he won himself, to reboot the league leaders’ bid to be crowned champions – and kill the stubborn resistance of Chris Hughton’s Seagulls.
The Egyptian’s 17th goal of the campaign maintained Jurgen Klopp’s record of never having lost two league games in a row since taking the Liverpool reins.
And most importantly it confirmed that this group of high-flying Reds are in no mood to crumble at the first sign of trouble.
If losing their air of invincibility at Manchester City 10 days ago had seriously wobbled the Merseysiders, this vital win proves they will scrap and fight to the death to rule English football for the first time in 30 years.
Their lead over Pep Guardiola’s City, who face Wolves tomorrow, is back up to seven points.
Meanwhile, the gap between themselves and third-placed Spurs, who are at home to Manchester United today, is in double figures.
No wonder Klopp hugged and congratulated each and every one of his stars following this scrappy south coast affair.
Grinding out results when below your best is a sign of authentic title contenders – and the Reds were anything but vintage here.
Klopp was still thrilled, though. The German coach said: “This performance was so mature and good. That’s what pleased me the most.
“Only a few in this league can win on bad days. This was not bad – but only a few can win on a difficult day, also.
“This win is important. When you fall off a horse, the best way to ride again is get back on it. So, it’s cool. But we didn’t make a big fuss of losing to City or in the Cup at Wolves. We never spoke about it.”
Liverpool fans did, though. In fact, many seemed to be in blind panic that, without three points here, their Holy
Grail would again elude them.
Brighton kicked off protecting a four-game unbeaten run but their record against the elite was cause for optimism for the visitors.
Despite the Amex Stadium being a fortress since the Seagulls returned to the top tier, five of their six home defeats in 18 months had come at the hands of the Big Six.
Liverpool, bidding for a fourth league win over them in as many games, began as if they would maintain that streak.
Yet, after Roberto Firmino failed to finish a trademark cross by the excellent Andy Robertson, the closest they came to breaking the deadlock before half-time was through recalled Xherdan Shaqiri.
And not from the Swiss star’s deadly left boot but via his head – as he glanced Trent Alexander-Arnold’s 26th-minute pinpoint centre an inch wide.
The longer the first half dragged on, the more pedestrian the visitors became in possession.
Salah’s quiet display highlighted just how dogged Brighton were in defence as they barely gave anyone in Red a sniff.
But that changed four minutes after the break as Salah suddenly burst into life and into the box. Even so, there was no need for Pascal Gross to kick the Liverpool ace in the calf.
The German sent him tumbling, leaving referee Kevin Friend pointing to the spot.
Salah dusted himself down and thrashed in the penalty. Gross nearly made amends 10 minutes later when, left unmarked 15 yards out, his effort was goal-bound until Fabinho blocked it. Albion never looked like scoring after that and Liverpool went close to a second goal as Shaqiri and then Georginio Wijnaldum whistled efforts wide. Brighton boss Hughton said: “I have no complaints about the penalty but I did feel that the balance of decisions today favoured Liverpool. “I’m delighted, though, because we ran them so close.”
MO WAY THROUGH: Dale Stephens gets his foot in front of Salah ROB-BED: Full-back Andy Robertson beats Martin Montoya to get a cross in VAN STALLED: Dunk and Button combine to keep out Van Dijk JURGEN CLAP: It’s all smiles from boss Klopp
DOUBLE: Jarrod Bowen