The Bluebirds fell to a home defeat against La Liga outfit Real Betis, who came from a goal behind to secure victory.
New signings Bobby Decordova-Reid and Josh Murphy made their first appearances at Cardiff City Stadium in front of 9,567 supporters. Sol Bamba lined up in midfield alongside Joe Ralls and Callum Paterson, with Sean Morrison and Bruno Ecuele Manga in the heart of the defence.
Neil Warnock’s men made a blistering start to the match and opened the scoring after only five minutes. City skipper Morrison burst into midfield and found Murphy, who raced past his opponent and into the box. The winger fired a shot into the top left-hand corner, beating the unfortunate Pau Lopez at his near post.
However, Betis set their own tempo soon afterwards, and patiently worked towards an equaliser. Los Verdiblancos got their reward after twenty-three minutes, with Lorenzo Morón on target. In an attempt to dispossess Joaquín of the ball, Bobby Decordova-Reid inadvertently assisted Morón, who cut past Manga before slotting home.
The Europa League side turned the match on its head with half an hour played, courtesy of a solo effort from ex-Barcelona star Cristian Tello. The winger collected the ball inside the City half and burst forward, evading three defenders. Tello’s attempt on goal was not powerful, but a stray boot cruelly diverted the ball past Neil Etheridge and into the net.
The game opened up towards the end of the first half; Junior Hoilett raced onto a long ball to feed Callum Paterson, who acrobatically flicked the ball just over the bar. At the other end, Betis captain Joaquín curled a fierce effort towards goal, which crashed against the crossbar before going out of play. Just before the break, an excellent goal-line block from Joe Bennett prevented a certain third – the left-back denied Japanese international Takashi Inui from a few yards out.
The second period began where the first half had left off, with chances for both teams. Murphy and Junior Hoilett both had penalty shouts waved away, before Hoilett tested Pau Lopez with a low drive. The pair combined after fifty-six minutes, with Hoilett setting Murphy up for a one-on-one, though the former Norwich man could only put his effort wide of the far post.
City continued their search for an equaliser and had the ball in the back of the net a few minutes later, though the referee had already signalled for a free-kick to Betis after a foul by Morrison. Soon afterwards, Joe Ralls tested the Lopez in the Betis goal with a stinging drive, before substitute Kenneth Zohore saw his shot safely deflect into the arms of the goalkeeper.
The pace of the match lowered in the final twenty minutes, as Betis regained control of the ball and began to see out their lead. Chances were few and far between, until the final kick of the match. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing crossed towards the back post, with Greg Cunningham on hand and unmarked. The left-back’s half-volley brushed against the side netting, before the referee brought an end to proceedings.
The Bluebirds have now completed their pre-season schedule and will kick-off their Premier League season at AFC Bournemouth next week.
Cardiff City: Etheridge, Peltier, Morrison, Manga, Bennett (Cunningham 71’), Bamba, Ralls, Paterson, Hoilett (Damour 63’), J. Murphy (Mendez-Laing 71’), Decordova-Reid (Zohore 63’).
Subs not used: B.Murphy, Connolly, Harris, Madine.
Real Betis: Lopez, Garcia (Gonzalez 83’), Bartra (Feddal 45’), Canales (Guardado 45’), Tello (Boudebouz 74’), Inui (Leon 45’), Moron (Firpo 74’), Joaquin (Tosca 74’), Mandi (Barragan 74’), Carvalho (Brasanac 66’), Guerro (Sanabria 74’).
Subs not used: Robles, Camarasa.