Spurs started the first half with their typical energy and attacking verve, but Hull were quick and confident enough to hit back.
Some dedication in midfield led to a flurry of chances from free-kicks and on counterattacks, and it was not always evident which side was newly promoted and which missed qualifying for the Champions League by a point last season.
Yannick Sagbo was particularly lively on the right wing, and Tom Huddlestone was a thorn in Spurs' side on his return to his old home ground. In the first half, he caught a volley characteristically cleanly from 20 yards out that blazed just over the bar.
Tottenham reapplied the pressure occasionally, and excellent interplay between Kyle Walker and Andros Townsend almost set up Roberto Soldado for a goal. Hull ended the first half on the best note.
The second half saw more of the same, and it was not obvious that Spurs were going to vanquish an opponent everyone thought they would defeat with ease.
But in the 79th minute, Ahmed Elmohamady was whistled for a handball just inside his own box, and the referee pointed to the spot. It looked like a very harsh decision, as Elmohamady was pulling his arm back toward his body as the ball hit it.
Roberto Soldado did not care. He coolly stepped up and sent Steve Harper the wrong way to hand Spurs the victory and send waves of relief through White Hart Lane. Hull will rightly think that they deserved a point.
Key Player Grades
Andros Townsend: A
Townsend is the flavor of the week in the English press, and he did much to justify the hype before he was removed with a serious-looking injury late in the game (he would return after six minutes). He frequently shredded his markers with ease, was constantly involved in Spurs' interplay and delivered a couple vicious left-footed shots.
Yannick Sagbo: A-
When Hull were at their attacking best, Sagbo was almost always at the center of the action. The Tigers looked to counterattack against a Spurs side that was aggressively pushing for the opening goal, and his pace troubled Vlad Chiriches and Jan Vertonghen all game.
Roberto Soldado: B
Soldado's rating is saved by the fact that he struck perfectly the penalty that won Tottenham the match. His lack of pace was frequently exposed, and while he did look a threat to poach a goal, he was generally contained by the sort of defense that he should be manhandling. Still, Soldado's penalty demonstrated that he is a natural goalscorer.
Same teams, same place three days from now. Tottenham will once again host Hull at White Hart Lane in the Capital One Cup. Then, Hull will face Sunderland, and Spurs will square off against Everton next weekend.