Match Report | Middlesbrough 1-3 Cardiff City
The Bluebirds secured another huge three points in the race for the play-offs on Saturday, July 18th, 2020, defeating Middlesbrough, 3-1 at the Riverside Stadium.
Captain Sean Morrison gave the Bluebirds the lead after just four minutes before substitute Josh Murphy netted twice for Neil Harris' side to give them a three goal advantage. Britt Assombalonga scored a late consolation free kick for the hosts but it was the Bluebirds who picked up a deserved victory.
City now need just one points from their final game against Hull City to secure a place in the Championship play-offs.
Neil Harris made one change to the side that beat Derby County in mid-week with Will Vaulks replacing Marlon Pack in the starting eleven.
The Bluebirds were facing off against former manager Neil Warnock's new side - and couldn't have got off to a better start, taking the lead inside four minutes. Captain Sean Morrison found space in a crowded penalty box, and met Joe Ralls' corner kick superbly, heading home his third goal of the campaign.
Ralls nearly went from provider to finisher on 11 minutes. City's No.8 took aim from the edge of the box, with Aynsley Pears tipping away the powerful effort. Junior Hoilett's follow up from a tight angle drifted wide of goal. Sadly for Hoilett, he was soon withdrawn through injury, with Josh Murphy coming on in place of the Canadian international.
City put in a dominant performance across the first 45 minutes, but were unable to add to the early strike in the opening half.
The Bluebirds started the second half as well as they had the first - netting a second goal within two minutes of the restart. Playmaker Lee Tomlin played a delightful through ball for substitute Murphy to run onto and in on goal. City's No.11 made no mistake, running through and slotting home and beyond Pears.
Warnock's side attempted to find a way back into the match. Attacking substitute Britt Assombalonga imposed himself in the penalty box while Marcus Tavernier saw his powerful strike tipped onto the crossbar by Alex Smithies after 68 minutes.
With the game nearing its end, it opened up into an end-to-end clash. The Bluebirds took advantage of this to add their third goal on 81 minutes. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing powered beyond Dael Fry down the right side before crossing low for Murphy to grab his second goal of the afternoon.
The dangerous Assombalonga did manage to grab a goal back for the home side with five minutes remaining. The Congolese international fired an exquisite free kick home from 25-yards to reduce the deficit. The threat of any kind of comeback seemed to disappear with one minute remaining when Jonny Howson was sent off for a second bookable offence following a late challenge on Will Vaulks. The Bluebirds controlling the five minutes added on to ensure another huge three points away from home.
FINAL SCORE: MIDDLESBROUGH 1-3 CARDIFF CITY
Middlesbrough: Pears, Dijksteel (Assombalonga 58’), Fry, Friend, Johnson, Saville (McNair 58’), Howson, Spence, Tavernier, Roberts (Coulson 58’), Fletcher (Nmecha 67’). Subs Not Used: Stojanovic, Wood, Wing.
Cardiff City: Smithies, Bacuna, Morrison, Nelson, Bennett, Vaulks, Ralls (Bamba 90’), Tomlin (Pack 72’), Mendez-Laing (Sanderson 90’), Hoilett (Murphy 17’), Glatzel (Ward 72’). Subs Not Used: Etheridge, Flint, Smith, Paterson.