While goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic has perhaps been Hull City’s surprise package this season, his self-christened ‘save of the season’ today almost defines his superb season in microcosm. Though some will see today’s result as a missed opportunity after a strong first half against Southampton, there is not a City fan alive who wouldn’t have taken a point as Dusan Tadic stepped up to take his side’s 90th minute penalty. As I keep saying, another game closer to the end of the season and Marco Silva’s Hull City are still outside of the drop zone. Our Premier League fate is still in our own hands.
Jakupovic’s marvellous save – incredibly his fourth penalty save of the season – ensured that City go three points clear of relegation rivals Swansea ahead of the Welsh side’s trip to Old Trafford tomorrow. I really do not believe the importance of the 32-year-old’s save can be overstated. While a potential five point gap would have been a huge psychological boost to the Tigers’ survival hopes, equally a last minute 1-0 defeat today could well have given Swansea the mental edge going into tomorrow’s game. Despite Swansea having a slightly better goal difference (prior to tomorrow’s match), a potential cushion of three points heading into the final three league games of the season is priceless, and for that we have Jakupovic to thank.
Unlike our last away trip, where Silva’s men never really got going against Stoke, the Tigers’ looked the better team in the first half at St Mary’s, dominating possession and looking the more dangerous side going forward. However, illustrating what has been an issue all season, clear cut chances were few and far between. While Southampton were fairly comfortably kept at bay, other than a Kamil Grosicki free kick clipping the outside of the post , City never really had Fraser Forster worried. Nevertheless, after a run of five straight defeats away from home, and having started with a fairly defensive formation, Marco Silva will be happy with the point.
While today’s point may well be the one that keeps us in the Premier League come the end of the season, today’s match will surely only be remembered for Jakupovic’s wonder save. At this point it is worth mentioning, as I have discussed many times in this blog, the career of Eldin Jakupovic has been a bit of an enigma. Quite remarkably, during his five year spell at the KCOM the Bosnian-born Swiss goalkeeper, who has one international cap to his name, has only made 30 league appearances for City, twenty of which have come this season. Regardless of what division we are playing in next season, there are sure to be club’s monitoring the previously unfancied 32-year-old after what must be described as the season of his career.
While I stressed in my last blog that personal I believe Sam Clucas is Hull City’s player of the season, along with Harry Maguire, Eldin Jakupovic must surely also be in contention. In his personal fairy tale of a Hull City career, which has seen him develop from a third choice Championship goalkeeper to a first choice Premier League number one, the Jak’s fight and determination epitomises Hull City’s ‘against all odds’ attitude this season. The raw passion he saws on the pitch has also cemented him as a firm fans’ favourite, and should his potentially priceless save, today, keep Hull City in the Premier League, it would be a fitting episode in the bizarre, but highly entertaining, career of Eldin Jakupovic.