CLINICAL CARDIFF CRUISE TO HOME WIN
Cardiff asserted their dominance over promotion rivals Blackpool in a three goal rout, with David Marshall rarely troubled in a game that the Bluebirds controlled for ninety minutes.
doubled the lead with another audacious free kick, taking the playmaker's tally to six in eight games. Blackpool didn't respond well to conceding two goals, and the half time break didn't improve their fortunes.Peter Whittingham placed his shot out of reach of Blackpool goalkeeper Gilks, before Matt ConnollyBlackpool had a large spell of possession early on, but an excellent attacking performance led to City opening on seventeen minutes.
Connolly headed home his second after the break following a whipped Whittingham corner that Blackpool's defence seemed to ignore. It secured City's fourth win out of four at home this season - equalling their best home start since 1959.
Cardiff came into this game on the back of a disappointing loss at Selhurst Park. Blackpool travelled to Cardiff City Stadium in a game that has become something of a rivalry in recent years, following the Bluebirds' 2010 play-off final defeat to the Seasiders.
City kicked off attacking toward the Canton Stand, with Blackpool initially controlling possession, before Gunnarsson sent a long throw into the Blackpool box that Hudson headed goalward, Gilks comfortably claiming. Whittingham then sent a good disguised ball to the right that McNaughton picked up, before laying Bellamy off twelve yards out; the Welsh international struck with pace, though Gilks was able to collect at his near post.
Blackpool's two Phillips' exchanged neat passes around the Cardiff area before Kevin sent a skewed shot that was no where near close enough to trouble Marshall. Cardiff were growing into the game, Noone's confidence on the ball pleasing the City crowd as the winger took the ball past four players before being felled on the ten minute mark, thirty five yards out. The free kick was taken quickly, Bellamy laying off Noone to cross to Smith, who fired a volley that Gilks smothered.
After a sustained period of Blackpool pressure, Whittingham found the space to fire a long ball into the path of Bellamy, who squared it to the onrushing Helguson, but the striker couldn't reach it. Noone then found his self with time in the box, hitting a left footed strike that forced a corner. With Cardiff looking more dangerous with every minute, it was only a matter of time before the Bluebirds found the net, Connolly firing home Bellamy's cross. Cardiff have scored in each of their home games against the Seasiders in the league for the past seventeen years, and this was no different.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1-0 BLACKPOOL (Connolly, 17 mins)
Substitution Cardiff:Joe Mason on for Tommy Smith (24 mins)
City continued to attack with verve, Bellamy winning a free kick on the right side of the box, with Cardiff's number seven Peter Whittingham stepping up. With the crowd almost expecting a goal given Whittingham's recent set-piece record, the midfielder calmly fired a low curled shot to the near post that beat Gilks all ends up.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 2-0 BLACKPOOL (Whittingham, 26 mins)
Matt Phillips was so far Blackpool's best attacking threat, and on the half hour mark he sent in an inviting cross that Blackpool failed to get on the end of. Other than a few hopeful long shots, Blackpool were largely innefective, although they did enjoy spells of possession.
With five minutes of the half to go, Noone sent another low shot to Gilks' near post, forcing the Blackpool goalkeeper into a save. Blackpool then won a corner, taking it short, before the ball fell to Kevin Phillips, who fired wide.
With the first half seeming to finish routinely, Whittingham again sparked life into the game with a fantastic ball over the top to Bellamy, this time the striker volleying brilliantly to force Gilks into an excellent save. Blackpool appeared rattled, Sylvestre earning a yellow card for bringing Noone down on the stroke of half time.
HALF TIME: CARDIFF CITY 2-0 BLACKPOOL
Substitution Blackpool: Nathan Delfouneso on for Ludovic Sylvestre (Half Time)
Cardiff came out from the break lining up 4-2-3-1, with Mason dropping behind Helguson, Bellamy on the right and Noone on the left.
And the formation change paid dividends early, Bellamy winning a corner following a long period of pressure on the Blackpool defence. Whittingham sent in an in-swinging corner just inside the six yard box, and Connolly rose to head home his second goal of the game, and Cardiff's third. The home fans were ecstatic, and Cardiff were cruising.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 3-0 BLACKPOOL (Connolly, 53 mins)
Substitution Blackpool: Isaiah Osbourne on for Scott Robertson (59 mins)
Substitution Blackpool: Nathan Eccleston on for Nouha Dicko (61 mins)
Whittingham then fired another free kick from a similar position that forced Gilks into another save, following good work by Bellamy down the right. With Marshall yet to make a testing save, both Gunnarsson and Bellamy sent vicious drives that cleared the crossbar of Blackpool's goal, before Whittingham played a wrong footed ball to Bellamy, who should have squared with more pace.
Substitution Cardiff: Kim Bo-Kyung on for Craig Bellamy (72 mins)
Matt Phillips sent a drive into Marshall's side netting as Kim Bo-Kyung came on to a warm reception, the Bluebirds fans eager to see what the summer signing could offer. Evatt was then booked for a challenge on Mason, before Kim sent a fantastic ball in to Mason, who beat his marker before squaring, the Blackpool defence clearing.
Substitution Cardiff: Don Cowie on for Heidar Helguson (81 mins)
A neat exchange of passes from the Cardiff midfield led to Mason laying off Noone, who blazed a shot inches wide of Gilks' far post, Cardiff firmly controlling the game. Throughout, the defending was resolute, and any number of Cardiff players could have won the Man of the Match; the award deservedly fell to Noone, who's movement and direct attacking runs tore Blackpool's defence apart.
In the final minute of normal time, Blackpool won a free kick on the edge of the Cardiff box, to Marshall's right. As the fourth official held up a board indicating four minutes of added time, Crainey sent a left footed whipped shot around the wall that struck the outside time of Marshall's post. It was the closest Blackpool had come all game, testament to Cardiff's work rate and superiority.