FOUR STAR CITY BACK TOP
Cardiff City put four past Burnley on Saturday to go back top of the npower Championship.
It took all of three minutes for the Bluebirds to take the lead at Cardiff City Stadium, Joe Mason surging from just inside his own half half before offloading to Craig Noone out on the right wing. Noone, who looked dangerous throughout the half, produced a shot that smacked Burnley keeper Lee Grant’s post and fell to the advancing Mason, the striker firing home from close range.
City enjoyed the upper hand throughout the half, and their sustained pressure led to Craig Noone doubling their lead after forty minutes. His shot from outside the penalty area was too hot for Grant to handle, the ball crossing the line with the keeper having got a hand to it.
The second half was again a one-sided affair. To Burnley’s credit, City had to wait until the eighty-first minute before scoring again, Peter Whittingham’s corner being headed in by Matthew Connolly to put City three in front. Karim Frei came on from the bench to make his City debut, replacing man-of-the-match Craig Noone, and seconds later City’s lead became four, as Whittingham’s cross was taken down by substitute Rudy Gestede before Aron Gunnarsson completed the scoring just as he had done at Cardiff City Stadium against Watford in midweek. Leicester’s defeat to Palace meant that City regained the league’s top spot ahead of next week’s trip to Bolton Wanderers.
A decidedly chilly October afternoon saw the Bluebirds face Burnley in their thirteenth Championship match of the season. A win would see the home side keep up the pressure on current leaders Leicester City. Kim Bo-Kyung made his first start for City, with Joe Mason also coming in in place of the injured duo of Craig Bellamy and Tommy Smith in midfield, while new loan signing Kerim Frei made the bench having moved temporarily to South Wales from Fulham a day before the match.
With just two minutes on the clock the first goal of the game was scored. Kim set off a Cardiff break by finding Joe Mason, who dribbled thirty yards before switching the ball to Craig Noone on the right wing. Noone’s confident effort cannoned off keeper Grant’s post, and rebounded into the path of a grateful Mason, who took a touch before firing past the despairing keeper.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1-0 BURNLEY (Mason, 3 mins)
More attacking from Noone after ten minutes resulted in a floating cross to the left side of the box. Striker Helguson was unfortunate to slip moments before the ball arrived with him, leaving it to roll out tamely for a goal kick.
Mason almost doubled his tally soon after but found the left-hand post in his way again. City’s goalscorer was played in again by Kim but was unable to get the ball out from under his feet before a recovery tackle from Duff gave City a corner. Moments later left-back Andrew Taylor was felled after marauding into the box, but referee Miller was unamused. For City’s next chance Kim decided he would try his luck from outside the area, his finish going just wide of Grant’s goal.
The away side, who were finding goalscoring chances difficult to come by in the early stages, caused City some problems down the left flank through former West Ham man Junior Stanislas, but the winger was unable to produce an effort to test Marshall in the City goal.
Burnley keeper Grant was forced into an awkward looking catch when Helguson headed Andrew Taylor’s cross his way on the forty minute mark. The ex-Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper fell head-over-heels over the challenge of City’s number twenty-two.
The next time the keeper was called into action, he was unable to achieve the same success. Grant got a hand to Craig Noone’s rocket-powered effort, but the ball still found its way over the line. City’s lead was doubled and their season’s goal difference was taken to nine.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 2-0 BURNLEY (Noone, 41 mins)
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 2-0 BURNLEY
Burnley Substitution: Sam Vokes on for Junior Stanislas (46 mins)
Burnley almost pulled one back in the first minute of the second half. A Mills corner was dummied twice before an effort was deflected wide of Marshall’s goal. It was Mills who collected the game’s first yellow card, bringing down Noone having been beaten to a header by the City winger seconds earlier.
City’s back four were looking resolute with numerous important blocks and tackles being made to keep Burnley, especially striker Charlie Austin, at bay. Austin had scored in each of his last eight outings for the Clarets, and had already notched eighteen goals this season, eclipsing his final total last season and putting him at the top of the league’s scorer’s charts.
A defensive mistake by the away side gave Peter Whittingham a chance at goal on around the hour mark, but City’s leading scorer dragged his effort wide to the right.
The latest cross from the ever-dangerous Noone was headed out for a corner by Kieran Trippier, with Heidar Helguson looming behind the defender. Noone hit the bar minutes later, again using his lethal left foot having cut inside from the right.
Cardiff Substitution: Rudy Gestede on for Heidar Helguson (63 mins)
Sub Gestede wasn’t far away from getting an opportunity to head goalwards, once again from a Noone cross. As in the first half, it was City who dominated for the first period of the second half, with Andrew Taylor speeding forward from the back on many occasions.
Burnley Substitution: Danny Ings on for Martin Paterson (72 mins)
e was caused by a slip from Turner, but no harm was done.Burnley finally brought a save from Marshall when Vokes forced a smart save from the Scotland stopper on seventy six minutes. The hole in City’s defenc
Cardiff Substitution: Aron Gunnarsson on for Kim Bo-Kyung (78 mins)
Burnley Substitution: Cameron Stewart on for Brian Stock (78 mins)
City’s lead was extended with ten minutes of the match to go. Matt Connolly was rewarded for his fine defensive display by getting City’s third, a header from a Peter Whittingham corner.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 3-0 BURNLEY (Connolly 81 mins)
Cardiff Substitution: Karim Frei on for Craig Noone (81 mins)
No sooner had Frei replaced the magnificent Noone to make his City debut, Cardiff had scored once again. Whittingham’s cross was headed down by Gestede, before Aron Gunnarsson scored for the second consecutive home match, City four goals to the good.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 4-0 BURNLEY (Gunnarsson 84 mins)
A sign of how complete Cardiff’s performance came with the game’s final play. A left-sided Burnley cross rebounded accidentally goalwards off Welshman Sam Vokes, and Marshall, who had had little to do all day, managed to keep the ball out from point-blank range. Leicester City’s 2-0 loss at home to Crystal Palace meant City went three points clear at the top of the league.
FULL TIME: CARDIFF CITY 4-0 BURNLEY