SAINTS' bid for European football got a timely boost last night  - the unlikely shape of Hull captain Michael Dawson.

The defender jumped high to head a vital winner over Liverpool at the KC Stadium on Tuesday night but boss Steve Bruce has warned his players to keep their feet firmly on the ground.

Dawson's powerful 36th minute header from an Ahmed Elmohamady cross proved enough to lift the Tigers four points clear of the relegation zone with four games to play.

Hull dominated from start to finish against a Liverpool side whom it might be argued followed the example set by many of their supporters by not turning up.

Swathes of seats in the visitors' section of the ground remained empty in protest at the £50 ticket price and those who did turn up must have wished they had not bothered as Liverpool's dismal end to the season continued.

Dame N'Doye, whose two goals to beat Crystal Palace on Saturday gave his side belief - had a chance in the sixth minute while visiting keeper Simon Mignolet was kept busy by chances for Robbie Brady and Jake Livermore.

Besides a well-saved effort from Philippe Coutinho Liverpool offered little and deserved to drop behind nine minutes before the break when Dawson timed his run to perfection to beat Liverpool's offside trap and head home.

Glen Johnson almost squeezed home an equaliser in first half injury time and Jordan Henderson twice tested Steve Harper in the second period but Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers - whose side are now effectively out of the running for a Champions League spot - admitted it was a night to forget.

Rodgers said: ''We didn't look like scoring - we had enough of the ball but we never really threatened and we were disappointed with the goal we conceded.

''The players put great energy into the game and they worked very hard but their struggles tonight were the same as they have been for a great part of the season in terms of creativity and scoring goals.''

Liverpool's season has fallen apart since their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Aston Villa with last weekend's goalless draw against West Bromwich Albion hardly helping to raise morale.

But Rodgers would hear nothing of suggestions his side's season is effectively over, insisting: ''We have an obligation to fight right to the end of the season.

''We wanted to be in that top four but it was always going to be difficult for us with the way our season mapped itself out. But we are looking to get momentum to take us through to next season.''

The result leaves the Reds in fifth position, level on points with Spurs and just one point ahead of Saints - who have a vastly superior goal difference to both their rivals as the season comes to a climax.