17:03 10th August 2013
by Steve Garland
Whitts' and Campbell earn final pre-season win
Clinical Cardiff City completed their Premier League preparations with a 2-1 win over La Liga outfit Athletic Club at Cardiff City Stadium.
It was classy strikes from Peter Whittingham and Fraizer Campbell either side of half-time that did it, as City made the most of the chances that came their way. Whittingham's fantastic 20-yard volley just before the break giving the Bluebirds the lead despite a tough first period against the Lions.
City wasted no time in doubling their advantage after the break as Campbell raced clear of the Athletic Club's back line, confidently rounding Athletic Club 'keeper Gorka Iraizoz before slotting the ball home past the Lions' scrambling defence.
A starting place for Steven Caulker signaled his full debut for Cardiff City with midfielder Aron Gunnarsson also making a welcome return to the starting-11 as he continued his recuperation from a shoulder injury.
The visitors made most of the early running, an early shot from Benat, a recent signing from Real Betis, fired a warning shot for the Bluebirds with less than a minute gone as he curled his effort over the bar.
City responded with a lovely cross in from Bellamy just a minute later, but it was the La Liga outfit who were dominating the early possession. Benat who was at times controlling the midfield single handedly for the visitors saw his chipped effort only denied by the crossbar. Young Spanish star Muniain was next to threaten as he capitalised on some lapse defending at the back, his curling effort just wide of Marshall's far post.
Further chances came and went for the visitors as they lacked the clinical edge to put them ahead. And soon the Bluebirds were making them pay as half-time approached; Whittingham firing one of his special strikes into the bottom left hand corner of the net to give City the lead. The City playmaker making the most of a pinpoint pass from Campbell to find him on the edge of the area.
Half-time: Cardiff City 1-0 Athletic Club
There were no changes for either side at the break, but clearly buoyed by their late strike in the first-half City pushed for a second from the off; they had soon doubled their lead.
Campbell, who has looked sharp and lively all pre-season, raced clear of the Athletic Club defence leaving him one-on-one with 'keeper Iraizoz, rounding him with consummate ease before slotting the ball home into the bottom corner of the net to double City's advantage on 52 minutes.
An excellent bit of play by Campbell was equalled by the visitors four minutes later however as Athletic Club pulled one back in controversial circumstances; Iraola the scorer as he guided his volley home at the far post past Marshall, provoking boos from the home fans who thought Campbell had been fouled earlier in the play.
Don Cowie and Joe Mason came on for Aron Gunnarsson and Craig Bellamy just after the hour mark and despite the threat of a comeback from the visitors it was City who were still enjoying the majority of the play. Craig Noone replaced Tommy Smith with 79 minutes on the clock.
The pressure built on the Bluebirds lead as full-time approached, but a solid looking City remained firm at the back; Muniain coming the closest to bringing the Lions level late on, only to be denied by an excellent save by 'keeper Marshall.
The win made it three wins out of five for the Bluebirds in pre-season, with the Premier League opener against West Ham United at Upton Park on the 17th August now just one week away.
Full-time: Cardiff City 2-1 Athletic Club
Cardiff City: Marshall; Connolly, John, Kim, Caulker, Turner, Whittingham, Gunnarsson (Cowie 65), Campbell, Bellamy (Mason 65), Smith (Noone 79). Subs not used: Brayford, Lewis, Hudson, Conway.
Athletic Club: Iraizoz; Iraola, San Jose, Gurpegui, Saborit (Laporte 62); Iturraspe, Beñat, Susaeta (Ibai 76), Herrera (De Marcos 62), Muniain; Toquero (Sola 62). Subs not used: Iago, Ekiza, Moran.
Attendance: 10,381 (Cardiff City Stadium)