Joe Ralls and Aron Gunnarsson put Cardiff ahead with two finely taken strikes in a dominant first half from Ole’s men, the Bluebirds in a buoyant mood. An incredible turnaround however gripped Cardiff City Stadium as Norwich came out galvanised and started finding space in behind, particularly in the wide areas. Olsson, Hoolahan, Turner and Jerome all put their names on the score-sheet to rub salt in Cardiff’s wounds and take the points.
Chronological Report:Ole Gunnar Solskjær made a trio of changes from the side that drew to Fulham before the international break, handing Aron Gunnarsson, Joe Ralls and Federico Macheda starts in place of Kagisho Dikgacoi, Mats Dæhli and Adam Le Fondre respectively.
An unchanged Cardiff back five settled in as Morrison picked out Kenwyne Jones, the striker’s header down to the feet of Gunnarsson allowing the Icelandic international to drive forward. A corner was the reward for his toils, as Whittingham’s in-swinging delivery was turned away only by the far post.
It wasn’t long before City were again piling on the pressure. Anthony Pilkington, urged by the crowd to shoot against his former club from the edge of the area, saw his effort deflected Joe Ralls pick up the lose ball. The youngster displayed good composure to find space before picking his spot in the far reach of John Ruddy’s goal.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1 – 0 NORWICH CITY (Joe Ralls, 4 minutes)
The visitors had barely touched the ball in the opening exchanges, with Fabio sniffing out any danger from Redmond early on. Macheda, Pilkington and Gunnarsson were combining well with the help of Jones and it was Macheda who won the first direct free kick of the game. Fabio struck, Ruddy spilled, though the Canaries stopper managed to smother the ball before any further danger came.
Kyle Lafferty then tested David Marshall with Norwich’s first real foray forward. The Scottish international dived to his left and palmed behind for a corner that City dealt with, the pressure relieved when Redmond over-hit his cross.
However, Cardiff City weren’t giving Norwich an inch as the midfield again combined with Kenwyne Jones. The Trinidadian walked unpressured to the corner of Ruddy’s area before feeding Pilkington with a delightfully weighted ball. The wide man rolled a low cross to Aron Gunnarsson who found the inside of the far post with a simple side-footed finish to double the score.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 2 – 0 Norwich City (Gunnarsson, 23 minutes)
What was turning into the best first half home performance this campaign, accompanied by a two-goal lead was just reward for Solskjær’s team’s efforts - Gunnarsson seemingly omnipotent. His tirelessness was allowing the midfielder to rob Norwich of the ball on multiple occasions as the visitors sought to step up a gear.
The Canaries did start to find their feet as the half drew to a close. Tettey had a low drive blocked and Redmond successfully cut in on his right, but again, Cardiff’s brick wall defence stood firm.
Bradley Johnson then tried a signature long-range effort, but the ball sailed over Marshall’s bar. Lafferty was next, sending a final speculative effort with his wrong foot over as referee Mark Haywood blew for half time; Norwich unable to breach Cardiff’s lines.
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 2 – 0 NORWICH CITY
Substitution, Cardiff City: Fabio replaced by Declan John (Half Time)
Substitution, Norwich City: Lafferty replaced by Cameron Jerome (Half Time)
Cardiff clearly had no plans to step off the gas after the interval with Brayford delivering a looping ball at the second attempt that Macheda caught cleanly on the volley. However, Ruddy was equal to the strike palming away to his right. As Norwich transitioned from back to front, Redmond managed to stretch Cardiff to win the away side a corner and though the ball in came to nothing it was an ominous warning.
Norwich had stepped up their work rate and gained almost immediate reward for their efforts when Martin Olsson slotted home from inside the eighteen-yard box.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 2 – 1 NORWICH CITY (Olsson, 54 minutes)
Cardiff City’s defending took a turn for the worse when Redmond caught Cardiff out. The home side’s defensive line was pushed far up the pitch when the winger broke with speed, driving into space down the right before delivering a looped ball. Marshall saved the first attempt well, but was left helpless as Wes Hoolahan smashed in the rebound to pull the away side level.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 2 – 2 NORWICH CITY (Hoolahan, 58 minutes)
With the scores level, Norwich continued to their ascendancy. Connolly was heroic in blocking several attempts from the edge of the box as the Bluebirds worked hard to stem the flow of attack.
Substitution, Cardiff City: Kenwyne Jones replaced by Nicky Maynard (68 minutes)
Substitution, Cardiff City: Anthony Pilkington replaced by Tom Adeyemi (68 minutes)
A double substitution reaped no immediate benefit as Cardiff were undone by Tettey’s touch that gave him space on the byline. His low ball in ricocheted before being tapped in by Michael Turner, a remarkable reversal complete.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 2 – 3 NORWICH CITY (Turner, 70 minutes)
With a quarter of an hour left, Whittingham unleashed a stinging drive that Ruddy did well to palm to safety as the Cardiff crowd urged their team to muster a reply.
A drab five minutes for any Cardiff fan was then turned on its head when Michael Turner brought down Tom Adeyemi on the edge of the box; the centre-back earning a booking in the process. Peter Whittingham then missed by the closest of margins as City looked for a way back in.
Substitution, Norwich City: Wes Hoolahan replaced by Gary O’Neil (82 minutes)
Another ex-Cardiff City man Gary O’Neil entered the fray to accompany Cameron Jerome as the game moved into the final stages and it was Jerome who added insult to injury with three minutes to go. The ball broke kindly to the pacey striker who took a classy touch to round Marshall before sliding the ball into the Cardiff goal.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 2 – 4 NORWICH CITY (Jerome, 87 minutes)
Substitution, Norwich City: Nathan Redmond replaced by Javier Garrido (88 minutes)
Four minutes of injury time did nothing to help the Bluebirds’ cause as they desperately sought a way back in. Gunnarsson’s speculative long-range effort encapsulated the tale of two halves as Cardiff City were reduced to shooting from range, much as the visitors were in the opening forty-five.
Ralls tried his luck but it was to be Norwich’s day, their second-half dominance earning all three points at CCS as the referee blew to end the contest.
Cardiff City:Marshall, Brayford, Fabio, Connolly, Morrison, Pilkington, Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Ralls, Jones, Macheda. Subs not used: Moore, Le Fondre, Cala, Dæhli.
Norwich City:Ruddy, Johnson, Martin, Turner, Lafferty, Hooiveld, Hoolahan, Redmond, Olsson, Tettey, Grabban. Subs not used: Rudd, Whittaker, Murphy, Odjidja-Ofoe.
Referee:Mr. Mark Haywood