Sunderland 1 Hull 0
Djibril Cisse pounced to head home his 10th and most important Barclays Premier League goal of the season as Sunderland got the better of a fractious relegation battle at the Stadium of Light.
Cisse snapped a scoring drought heading back to February when he got on the end of an Andy Reid cross which had been flicked on by Danny Collins deep into first half injury time.
And despite a late push from the visitors in which George Boateng and substitute Caleb Folan both came close, it is the Tigers who look set to have more sleepless nights as the top-flight season nears its conclusion.
The visitors had limped up to the Stadium of Light in freefall having won just one of their 16 previous Premier League games and now find themselves teetering on the brink with memories of their bright start fading fast.
Yet the way the visitors started the game suggested there may be life in them yet, as they got forward with plenty of freedom and fashioned their first chance with less than two minutes on the clock.
Manucho was close to connecting with a cross from the left by Geovanni and moments later former Sunderland midfielder Kevin Kilbane steered a low shot just wide.
Boaz Myhill had to race from his goal to mop up after his defence were caught out by a Grant Leadbitter lob up field, but he had little else to do in the opening stages as pressure clearly got to Ricky Sbragia’s side.
Manucho just failed to reach another Geovanni cross in the 21st minute then the Brazilian himself dipped a speculative effort over the bar before Kilbane had an even better chance to break the deadlock.
Geovanni took advantage of a series of defensive errors to find space to cross towards the Irishman, who stooped to head a low shot which was flapped round the post by home keeper Craig Gordon.
Sunderland struggled to find any sort of momentum, and after Calum Davenport had failed to get the vital touch in a crowded box Hull pressed again with Phil Bardsley heading a Michael Turner effort off the line.
But the home side rode their luck and grabbed a scarcely deserved opener in first-half injury time when Collins flicked on Reid’s deep cross and found Cisse who duly nodded past the helpless Myhill.
It was a different story after the restart as Sunderland poured forward and Cisse almost grabbed a second with seconds on the clock, bursting through the Tigers’ defence and lashing a low shot which was blocked by Myhill.
Kenwyne Jones thought he had grabbed the second in the 48th minute when he nodded in a short cross from Reid from point-blank range, but the assistant referee correctly ruled him offside.
Cisse had another effort saved by Myhill before George Boateng almost took advantage of a half-clearance from the home side to lash a powerful right-foot drive inches wide.
It was all Sunderland now, and Leadbitter played in Reid with a delightful 63rd minute through ball but the Irish midfielder spooned his shot over the advancing Myhill and saw it sail harmlessly over the bar.
The visitors came close to an equaliser in the 72nd minute when Craig Fagan crossed from deep on the right and substitute Caleb Folan rose highest in the box to head inches wide of the target.
Tempers frayed as Hull pushed with increasing desperation for an equaliser, with substitute Bernard Mendy lucky to escape a caution after squaring up with Kieran Richardson.
And the home side could have wrapped it up with the last kick of the game when substitute Daryl Murphy lashed a low shot against the post and Richardson hit the follow-up high.