Cardiff City kept their first clean sheet under Ole Gunnar Solskjær as Tuesday evening’s Barclays Premier League match with Aston Villa finished goalless.
Cardiff were looking to bounce back after Saturday’s disappointing derby defeat with Paul Lambert’s Villa visiting Cardiff City Stadium for the Bluebirds’ first Tuesday night home game of the season. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær had to do without Craig Bellamy, scorer in City’s previous home match against Norwich City, after the Welshman sat out the first of his three game suspension. Craig Noone and Jordon Mutch returned to the Cardiff line-up having been on the bench at the weekend.
Villa, who also suffered a 2-0 defeat at Villa Park against struggling West Ham United last time out, making for in interesting clash as the BT Sport cameras visited the Welsh capital for the first time. Lambert was able to name captain Ron Vlaar, who had missed the weekend’s game, and Ryan Bertrand, both of whom had been injury concerns, in his starting eleven.
The game’s first half-chance came after six minutes, when Villa defender Nathan Baker couldn’t manage to direct Fabian Delph’s corner goalwards. Brad Guzan had to collect after Jordon Mutch beat the offside trap to centre moments later. Delph’s low drive was just wide of Marshall’s post on nine minutes.
Cardiff struck the woodwork twice in quick succession; firstly as Fraizer Campbell’s movement allowed him an opening to shoot, with American keeper Guzan deflecting the ball onto the post, while Craig Noone had another deflected effort hit the bar from range with Guzan well beaten. Campbell almost beat the offside trap again on eighteen minutes only for Guzan to come rushing off his line to clear.
Somehow referee Chris Foy failed to spot Nathan Baker’s arms around Kenwyne Jones in the box on twenty minutes, with the Bluebirds’ wait for a first penalty of the campaign continuing. Belgian international striker Christian Benteke had a header stopped for David Marshall’s first save of the game shortly after.
After creating the move with a surging run where he skipped past numerous Villa players, Wilfried Zaha produced a dangerous cross that Campbell came just short of connecting with. Campbell was played onside by a wayward Baker clearance and his endeavour was rewarded with two quick corners, the second of which was headed over by Jones. Jordon Mutch, who delivered that corner, had to leave the action with a recurrence of the trouble that kept him out of Saturday’s starting line-up, with Magnus Wolff Eikrem coming on in his place.
Benteke should have done better when Marc Albrighton produced an impressive cross from under the noses of the two Cardiff defenders surrounding him on thirty-three minutes. Zaha had the ball in the back of the net on thirty-five, but the on-loan Manchester United player was offside when he received the ball, despite the quality of his turning finish.
Villa left-back Joe Bennett was the benefactor of a dubious onside call and delivered a testing cross that none of his teammates could get on the end of, while Benteke headed upwards instead of goalwards just before half-time.
HALF-TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0-0 ASTON VILLA
After a duo of Christian Benteke chances, Kenwyne Jones fired well over on the turn on forty-nine minutes. After a run which twisted and turned Villa captain Ron Vlaar, Fraizer Campbell dragged a shot wide.
Leandro Bacuna, who was enjoying some success along Villa’s right flank, produced a cross which required Ben Turner to get his head in front of Albrighton, a duty which he did well, and again two minutes later as Albrighton, who spent time earlier this season on loan in the Championship with Wigan Athletic, had his shot snuffed out by the big Cardiff City defender. Bacuna shot wide having been played through by Gabriel Agbonlahor soon after.
Mats Møller Dæhli came on for his Barclays Premier League debut in place of Wilfried Zaha on the hour. There was a moment of panic in the City area as the ball sat up between Gabby Agbonlahor and a host of City players, but luckily for the home side the danger was cleared.
Ben Turner, who was enjoying a fine game at centre-half, took up defensive duties again with a powerful tackle on Benteke, who would have been through on goal otherwise. Villa sent on a striker in place of a defender as Austrian international Andreas Weimann replaced Joe Bennett on sixty-nine minutes. Turner was at it again as he made a last-minute interception to deny Benteke before Marshall saved comfortably from Albrighton.
Steven Caulker’s header from Eikrem’s left-sided corner was coolly taken by Guzan before Villa’s best chance yet. With Campbell down, Turner marvellously tackled Agbonlahor on the edge of the area before David Marshall made an unbelievable save from Fabian Delph’s twice-deflected shot. Théophile-Catherine headed away just in front of Weimann moments before the French right-back made a crucial last-ditch tackle as Agbonlahor had the goal at his mercy.
Ryan Bertrand’s cross deserved a better outcome than the flash across goal that it got, but Marshall pulled off yet another trademark wonder-save to tip over Weimann’s close-range shot, sparking a standing ovation from the Cardiff City Stadium crowd. That was the final action, as the game finished scoreless.
FULL-TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0-0 ASTON VILLACardiff City:
Marshall, Caulker (capt), Turner, Medel, Jones, Campbell, Noone, Mutch (Eikrem 32), Théophile-Catherine, Zaha (Dæhli 61), John. Subs not used:
Lewis, Cowie, Cala, Berget, Fábio.
Guzan, Baker, J. Bennett (Weimann 70), Vlaar (capt), Bacuna, Agbonlahor, Albrighton, Westwood, Delph, Benteke, Bertrand. Subs not used:
Steer, Clark, El-Ahmadi, Helenius, Sylla, Holt.
27,597 (2,173 away)