Match Report: Cardiff City 4-2 Birmingham City
Cardiff City returned to winning ways on Saturday afternoon, defeating Birmingham City 4-2 at CCS as Joe Ralls bagged a hat-trick for the Bluebirds.
City's starting lineup included defender Curtis Nelson, who was making his first league start for the Bluebirds since signing for the Club over the summer.
Birmingham City took an early lead through Kristian Pedersen, who took advantage of a loose ball near City’s goal line to put the visitors ahead in the third minute of play.
Dan Crowley had Blues’ next big chance, when his shot hit the post with 15 minutes played. Shortly afterwards, Neil Etheridge pulled off a great save to deny the visitors from extending their lead, tipping a shot from the edge of the area high over the bar.
Danny Ward had City’s first chance of the encounter. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing linked up well with Joe Ralls from a short corner, before crossing low into Birmingham City’s area. Ward found himself on the receiving end of the effort and inside the six yard box, but his flicked shot trailed just wide.
City’s efforts to find an equaliser paid off on the half hour mark as the Bluebirds were awarded a penalty kick. Aden Flint’s shirt had been pulled in the visitors’ area, leaving Joe Ralls to step up and send Lee Camp the wrong way, drawing City level.
Nelson put City ahead less than ten minutes later, as the defender struck home emphatically from close range. Aden Flint’s header was pushed away by Camp, leaving Nelson to shoot from two yards out.
With his first shot blocked, the defender managed to score on his second time of asking, and sent the ball rocketing into the top of Birmingham City’s net.
Junior Hoilett nearly extended the hosts’ lead moments later. The winger was fed the ball by Mendez-Laing on the edge of the area following some positive buildup play by Leandro Bacuna, and found his curled shot tipped away by the fingertips of Camp.
City pressed from the off in following the interval, and came close to scoring on two occasions in the opening minutes. Nelson's second of the afternoon was denied by the referee's call for a foul on a yellow shirt, while Danny Ward missed his header from a deflected cross.
Danny Ward was sent off in the 52nd minute for a dangerous tackle, leaving the Bluebirds a man down as they sought to protect their lead for the remainder.
Birmingham City used their numerical advantage to press the Bluebirds hard throughout the remainder, with spells of pressure resulting in several ambitious shots that flew wide of the mark.
Joe Ralls bagged a brace with 20 minutes remaining, doubling City’s lead to the delight of the home crowds. Mendez-Laing made a terrific run down the right flank before cutting in towards the visitors’ area. Laying the ball off to Ralls, the midfielder planted his effort in the left hand side of the net with his left foot.
Ivan Šunjić scored in the 89th minute with a long range shot that flew past the grasp of Etheridge, placing pressure once again on the hosts.
City struck back in the fifth minute of injury time, however, as Joe Ralls secured his hat-trick with his second penalty kick of the encounter. Sending Camp the wrong way once more, the midfielder ran towards the USW Stand to celebrate in front of the ecstatic City faithful.
With the final whistle blown, the Bluebirds had come back from conceding an early goal to take all three points at CCS, returning to winning ways as they continue their 2019/20 Sky Bet Championship campaign.
FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 4-2 BIRMINGHAM CITY
Cardiff City: Etheridge, Peltier, Bennett, Flint, Bacuna, Ralls, Pack, Nelson (Bamba 85'), Mendez-Laing (Paterson 80'), Ward, Hoilett (Bogle 75'). Subs: Smithies, Vaulks, Murphy, Tomlin.
Birmingham City: Camp, Pedersen, Roberts, Colin, Crowley (Bailey 80'), Jutkiewicz, Dean, Villalba, Mrabti (Maghoma 65'), Bellingham (Giménez 69'), Šunjić. Subs: Trueman, Harding, Clarke-Saltere, Davis.