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Bullard makes talking point

Jimmy Bullard helps Hull exorcise the demons of the past as they snatched a crucial point at Manchester City.

Jimmy Bullard helped Hull exorcise the demons of the past as they snatched a crucial point. The midfielder slotted home an 81st-minute penalty and then celebrated by re-enacting the infamous team talk by Phil Brown following last season's 5-1 humbling. It was cheeky, but no laughing matter for Mark Hughes as City stumbled to a seventh successive league draw. After last season's defeat, Brown demanded better from his Hull side on their return to Eastlands. It was 4-0 at the break on that Boxing Day, but the tenacious Tigers did not let him down this time, holding out until first-half injury time.

City struggled early on and it took the captain Kolo Toure to inject some urgency for their first chance in the 16th minute. He made a forceful run down the right before setting up Micah Richards, whose ball into the box was flicked just over the bar by Stephen Ireland. City's 82.5 million (Dh500m) frontline then came to the fore with Robinho curling a shot inches wide. Emmanuel Adebayor then slipped Carlos Tevez through on goal, but Matt Duke spread himself well to block.

An intelligent, incisive move in the 30th minute almost brought City the lead. The ball moved from left to right with Ireland backheeling for Robinho to find Shaun Wright-Phillips on the right, but his first-time shot hit the side-netting. It was frustrating, and with just one clean sheet in nine games City still looked anxious at the back. When their goal came, it was a relief and fortunate. Wright-Phillips let fly from 20 yards and Anthony Gardner's head deflected it past the stranded Duke.

It was harsh on Hull, but they started the second half more determined than dejected. Jozy Altidore used his strength to set up Richard Garcia 10 yards out, but as he clipped the ball past Shay Given, Joleon Lescott got back to clear off the line. City responded with attack. Wright-Phillips felt he should have had a penalty when he danced his way into the box and seemed to be caught from behind by Stephen Hunt.

The winger has been a model of inconsistency this season, but was a constant danger yesterday, firing another low shot that Duke held. In a repeat of his earlier effort, Robinho almost made it 2-0 before leaving to a standing ovation. Yet City's supporters were soon fuming as Hull levelled through Bullard's spot-kick after Toure's push on Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. akhan@thenational.ae

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