BLUEBIRDS OFF THE MARKCardiff City got their first three points in the Premier League in unbelievable, heart-stopping fashion as they saw off Manchester City by three goals to two at Cardiff City Stadium.
A momentous occasion was met by a tremendous atmosphere inside Cardiff City Stadium as the Bluebirds kicked off their home season in the Premier League against 2011-12 league champions Manchester City.
A deafening sell-out crowd greeted Malky Mackay’s men as they took to the pitch against their heavyweight opponents. Manuel Pellegrini brought his side to Wales for his first Premier League away trip in charge of the Citizens, while Gary Medel made his home debut for the Bluebirds and Steven Caulker turned out in the league for City at CCS for the first time since joining from Tottenham Hotspur this summer.
A quick-paced start from the Bluebirds saw Craig Bellamy lose David Silva and deliver a cross which eluded Gael Clichy. As Peter Whittingham received it with his back to goal, the entire home crowd was already on their feet, but after he set up Fraizer Campbell the chance fizzed out.
A free-kick won by Kim Bo-Kyung after a battle with Joleon Lescott on the edge of the box was put just wide by Peter Whittingham after five minutes, while another set-piece five minutes later saw Steven Caulker force England goalkeeper Joe Hart into a smart save low to his right, but the assistant referee’s offside flag put paid to any chance from the rebound.
Whittingham was again in the thick of things soon after, bringing another save from Hart after two committed challenges from Gary Medel and Aron Gunnarsson twice took the ball off the toes of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho respectively.
It was the away side’s turn to attack on twenty minutes as interplay from Sergio Aguero and Silva left the Spaniard in space in the box, but the intervention of Andrew Taylor, making his first Premier League appearance for Cardiff after sitting out last week’s trip to West Ham, ensured the attack came to nothing.
A Cardiff break saw Craig Bellamy race down the right wing and provide an inch-perfect cross to the feet of Campbell in the penalty area. The striker, who started his career at Manchester City’s fierce city-rivals United, was denied by another offside flag, this much more debatable than the first.
A marauding run from the powerful Yaya Toure might have split the home side’s defence were it not for an error by Bosnian international striker Edin Dzeko, who failed to control the Ivorian’s splitting pass. Dzeko also had the game’s next chance, but the close attention of both Steven Caulker and Matthew Connolly snuffed out the big forward’s chance of converting Jesus Navas’ centre.
A committed showing from Fraizer Campbell was symbolised when he and Ben Turner hurled themselves in the way of a strike from Toure after thirty-five minutes – the game was paused not long after for Campbell’s bruises to be seen to. He rejoined the action to see David Silva fluff a free header in David Marshall’s box, the ball ending up further away from goal than the Spaniard was.
City’s best chance of the first half was created by Aron Gunnarsson who put the ball over the City defence, but Campbell was just unable to connect with the fast-running ball. He did bring a save from Hart soon after though, but the City goalkeeper was quick off his line to narrow the angle for Cardiff’s number ten.
Gary Medel obliged the cries of the home crowd with his first Ayatalloh toward the end of the first half, and the two sides went in at the break goalless.
HALF-TIME: CARDIFF CITY 0–0 MANCHESTER CITY
Joleon Lescott had the first chance of the second half, but Pablo Zabaleta’s bouncing ball would have been hard to take on first-time even for a striker, let alone a centre-back. But the second chance had a much less positive outcome for the Bluebirds, as Edin Dzeko smacked the ball into the top corner after picking up the ball from a Sergio Aguero flick.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 0-1 MANCHESTER CITY (Edin Dzeko 50 mins)
Manuel Pellegrini withdrew Jesus Navas and replaced him with Samir Nasri following his side’s breakthrough goal. But the French international’s first action of real note was to watch on as a moment of history was written into the record books at Cardiff City Stadium: Kim Bo-Kyung’s trickery saw him slide his way into the right-hand side of the penalty area, from where he found Fraizer Campbell. Campbell’s close-range shot took Joe Hart out of the picture, and Aron Gunnarsson fired home for the Bluebirds’ first-ever Premier League goal.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 1-1 MANCHESTER CITY (Aron Gunnarsson 60 mins)
Goalscorer Edin Dzeko was replaced by another new City signing in former Sevilla frontman Alvaro Negredo with the clock approaching seventy minutes, but Ben Turner gave a marvellous performance over the following ten minutes at the heart of Cardiff City’s defence, clearing his side’s lines on numerous occasions. Caulker played his part too, denying Nasri with a block before David Silva cut inside and curled a shot over the bar. James Milner replaced Fernandinho for Manchester City’s third and final substitution.
Then came some more history. Fraizer Campbell headed in Peter Whittingham’s corner at the far post to put Cardiff City in the lead. It was an unbelievable moment – with the entire home crowd joining in with a round of ‘the Poznan’ and then an extra helping of Ayatollahs.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 2-1 MANCHESTER CITY (Fraizer Campbell 79 mins)
Craig Bellamy received a standing ovation as he made way for Don Cowie with ten minutes left to play. But if City taking the lead was unbelievable, seeing Fraizer Campbell make it three with another header, this time from the opposite corner, was impossible to put into words. City’s lead was doubled, the away fans were resolutely silenced and the Bluebirds led the Sky Blues by three goals to one.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 3-1 MANCHESTER CITY (Fraizer Campbell 87 mins)
Jordon Mutch replaced the influential Kim Bo-Kyung as the game ticked into the first of the six allocated minutes of injury time. Alvaro Negredo pulled one back for Pellegrini’s side with a powerful header beyond Marshall after two minutes of the added time.
GOAL: CARDIFF CITY 3-2 MANCHESTER CITY (Alvaro Negredo 90+2 mins)
Negredo might have drawn his side level when he converted a pass from Sergio Aguero from close range, but the Argentinian had already been ruled offside. But Cardiff City’s day was not to be ruined. Malky Mackay had steered his men to a 3-2 victory over the might of Manchester City, possibly producing the greatest result in the club’s history.
FULL-TIME: CARDIFF CITY 3–2 MANCHESTER CITY
Cardiff City: Marshall (GK), Connolly, Taylor, Caulker, Turner, Whittingham, Medel, Kim (Mutch 90), Gunnarsson, Bellamy (Cowie 83), Campbell (Cornelius 90). Subs not used: Lewis (GK), Hudson, Noone, Maynard.
Manchester City: Hart (GK), Zabaleta, Lescott, Garcia, Clichy, Navas (Nasri 55), Aguero, Silva, Fernandinho (Milner 77), Toure, Dzeko (Negredo 69). Subs: Pantilimon (GK), Kolarov, Nastasic, Rodwell.
Referee: Lee Probert