Cardiff City slumped to a 3-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace as Jason Puncheon scored either side of former City captain Joe Ledley’s goal against his former Club to earn the win.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær made three changes to the Cardiff City team that started last Saturday’s dramatic 3-3 draw with West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns, with Kenwyne Jones, Mats Møller Dæhli and Wilfried Zaha all coming into the starting line-up. Craig Bellamy was given a place on the bench, as was Craig Noone following a groin strain, while Aron Gunnarsson and Fábio da Silva missed out as they were nursing knocks sustained last week.
Opposite number Tony Pulis selected an unchanged eleven to that which began last week’s shock 1-0 win over the then-Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea, meaning both former Cardiff City captain Joe Ledley and Cameron Jerome returned to Cardiff City Stadium to take on their former employers. Another former Bluebird, Wales defender Danny Gabbidon, was on the bench.
This match was the main event of the Club’s very first Cardiff City Foundation Day, hosted by the club in support of the Cardiff City Community & Education Foundation. The Bluebirds wore special commemorative shirts to mark the occasion.
Palace’s Kagisho Dikgacoi was presented with the game’s first clear-cut opportunity after four minutes, as the South African international took Jason Puncheon’s left-sided corner down onto his chest, and despite having plenty of room to work with, fired high and wide over David Marshall’s goal. Kévin Théophile-Catherine blocked Australian Palace captain Mile Jedinak from getting an attempt moments later.
Cardiff’s first effort on target came after twenty-four minutes, as Fraizer Campbell got his head to Jordon Mutch’s cross, the effort very nearly catching out Argentinian goalkeeper Julián Speroni, but the shot-stopper just got enough of his fingers on the ball to push it around the post.
Marshall stopped low from Puncheon on twenty-seven minutes, shortly before Adrian Mariappa beat Kenwyne Jones to a header to concede a corner. Mariappa was lucky not to score an own goal when he deflected Jones’s ball intended for Dæhli, the ball rolling wide. Yannick Bolasie failed to find any of his teammates when he crossed from the left wing shortly after.
Palace did take the lead after thirty-one minutes. Jason Puncheon collected the ball just inside the area from Joe Ledley before unleashing a low left-footed drive that evaded two Cardiff City players and rendered Marshall helpless.
Cameron Jerome was booked for a challenge from behind on Mutch before Joel Ward followed him by nonchalantly kicking the ball into Row Z after fouling Théophile-Catherine. Andrew Taylor blasted over via a Jerome deflection just before the break.
HALF-TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0-1 CRYSTAL PALACE
Joe Ledley curled an early second half effort over before Mutch missed wildly with a free-kick. It was Palace who enjoyed the better of the opening ten minutes of the second period, as the Eagles continued to look dangerous on the break with City offering little in the final third as they looked for the leveller.
Cameron Jerome had an effort blocked on impact by Ben Turner before Puncheon was allowed acres of room to shoot, but Marshall was not tested to any great extent. Caulker headed over at the other end for City.
Craig Noone replaced Wilfried Zaha on sixty-one minutes, while Marouane Chamakh came on for Yannick Bolasie not long after for the visitors. A mistimed tackle by Ben Turner on Puncheon earned him a yellow card, and Gary Medel suffered the same fate for bringing down Jerome.
Then Palace doubled their advantage. Chamakh headed to bring a save from Marshall with his first meaningful touch and Joe Ledley tapped in the rebound.
Craig Bellamy replaced Mats Dæhli on seventy-two minutes. After Ledley was booked, he was withdrawn for Jonathan Parr, while Don Cowie came on for Kenwyne Jones in the same break in play. Glenn Murray replaced Cameron Jerome in the game’s final substitution before Bellamy blasted over on eighty-six minutes.
Soon after, Palace’s win was sealed. Mariappa fed the ever threatening Puncheon, who turned and curled one into the top corner with ease for his second of the game. Fraizer Campbell shot tamely at Speroni in the final minute of normal time before Andrew Taylor headed with the same result a minute into added time.
3-0 was how it finished, the Eagles’ first away win of 2014.
FULL-TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0-3 CRYSTAL PALACE
TEAMS - Cardiff City: Marshall, Taylor, Caulker (capt), Turner, Medel, Jones (Cowie 78), Campbell, Mutch, Théophile-Catherine, Dæhli (Bellamy 72), Zaha (Noone 61).
Subs not used: Lewis, Eikrem, McNaughton, Juan Cala.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Mariappa, Dann, Bolasie (Chamakh 53), Dikgacoi, Puncheon, Jedinak (capt), Delaney, Ledley (Parr 79), Jerome (Murray 83).
Subs not used: Hennessey, Ince, Gayle, Gabbidon.
Goals: Puncheon 31’, 88’, Ledley 71’
Attendance: 27,687 (Cardiff City Stadium)
Referee: Mr. P. Dowd