Leeds United moved back into the Championship’s top six after Pablo Hernandez took advantage of a horrible error by Hull City goalkeeper Alan McGregor.
The Spaniard settled a tight derby at Elland Road by producing a delightful chip to beat McGregor after the former Scotland international drove a miscued clearance straight to his feet 30 yards from goal.
Hernandez’s 30th-minute finish went heavily against the run of play in a first half which Hull dominated.
United keeper Felix Wiedwald was forced into two excellent early saves as City disregarded the gulf between the clubs in the Championship and dictated today’s Yorkshire derby.
The visitors threatened the draw first blood on several occasions and also struck a post as Leeds, minus the influence of the injured Samuel Saiz, found their pace difficult to handle but Hernandez’s opportunistic effort ensured that United will spend Christmas Day inside the play-off positions, their first appearance there for two months.
Hull are still looking for a first victory under new manager Nigel Adkins and the club remain a long way down the division but they would have been ahead inside two minutes had the much-criticised Wiedwald not pulled off a fingertip save to stop Kamil Grosicki finding the top corner with a well-placed strike form 20 yards.
Wiedwald was under the cosh early on as Hull’s start outstripped United’s and the German was drawn into another good stop when Nouha Dicko worked space out of Pontus Jansson and drove a shot across goal. Jon Toral, meanwhile, was inches from the opening goal when his strike deflected off Jansson’s back and narrowly wide on 13 minutes.
Toral again went close to finishing off a far-post cross from Grosicki with United’s defence splitting open repeatedly and Leeds toiled as much in attack, failing to fashion any serious chances until Hernandez’s strike. One good move broke down when Gjanni Alioski’s low centre from the left bounced off the heels of Hernandez 10 yards out.
McGregor, however, handed Leeds a gift of an opener with half an hour gone and United’s advantage remained intact 10 minutes before the break when Toral struck the outside of the post with a controlled finish from the edge of the box.
Leeds could have a second on 44 minutes, though, when Pawel Cibicki's downward header set up Alioski for a volley which smashed against McGregor's legs but Thomas Christiansen reacted to the balance of the game by replacing midfielder Kalvin Phillips with Eunan O’Kane at the break.
Hull continued to set the pace but found clearer chances more difficult to come by. Kevin Stewart, who replaced the injured Ondrej Mazuch before half-time, nodded a free header over shortly after the hour but City were restricted to speculative efforts, despite periods of pressure.
Pierre-Michel Lasogga was sent on by Christiansen for the final 13 minutes, his first appearance since early November following a calf strain, but Leeds dug into see out a third straight victory.
Leeds United: Wiedwald, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Berardi, Vieira, Phillips (O'Kane 46), Cibicki, Hernandez (Pennington 90), Alioski, Roofe (Lasogga 77). Subs (not used): Lonergan, Shaughnessy, Anita, Grot.
Hull City: McGregor, Tomori, Aina, Dawson, Mazuch (Stewart 31), Hector, Larsson, Toral (Bowen 73), Irvine, Grosicki, Dicko (Henriksen 81). Subs (not used): Marshall, Clark, Clackstone, Diomande.
Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire)