Match Analysis: Cardiff City 3-2 Manchester City

From the minute new Cardiff owner Vincent Tan stepped out onto the pitch at the Cardiff City Stadium before their inaugural home fixture in the Premier League against Man City, there was a sense that all had been forgotten.

There had been a almighty backlash, understandably, when Tan decided to, in the eyes of many, sacrilegiously change the historic blue colours of The Bluebirds to a more marketable red strip at the start of last season and slap a Welsh dragon on the emblem. What a difference a year makes.

Wearing a red Cardiff top over his shirt and tie and tucked aggressively into his suit trousers, he waved joyously at the crowd who were more than accepting. He signed programmes for young fans and shook their hands. He was no longer public enemy number one after seeing his newly-acquired and rebranded football team join the top tier after winning the Championship last year.

The atmosphere was electric, but nobody in the stadium would’ve dared dream the eventual final result against big spenders Man City.

Cardiff started the game on the front foot, pressing high and hard against possession obsessives Man City, buoyed on by the home crowd.

It was clear from the offset that Malky Mackay had set his side up to absorb and deflect any pressure and look to catch the away side on the break. It certainly worked. Pellegrini’s side tried and failed to break down the 4-2-3-1 Cardiff assembled – packing the midfield and stifling their tiki-taka approach.

Peter Whittingham, who had previously played in the Premier League with Aston Villa, went close with a curling free kick and a well-struck drive from 20 yards out, but failed to trouble Joe Hart too much.

Frazier Campbell looked lively all afternoon, showing nice touches, holding the ball up and winning free kicks off a make shift Man City defence that saw midfielder Javi Garcia line up against Joleon Lescott in the absence of captain Vincent Kompany and Nastasic, who was included amongst the away side’s substitutes.

Campbell raced in between the two centre backs just before half time, firing wide. But it was a warning, and a disciplined defensive performance from the home side ensured Mackay would be the happier of the two managers going into the break after a goalless half.

Seven minutes after the restart and disaster for Cardiff, as Man City – frustrated at not being able to pass their way through the Cardiff defence – opted for an alternative method. A classy backheeled lay off from Sergio Aguero was latched onto by Edin Dzeko who let fly and drilled the ball from outside the box beyond David Marshall.

It looked like Cardiff’s hard work in the first half had been in vain, but they showed resilience and refused to let their heads drop. Bo-Kyung Kim in particular looked dangerous all afternoon and it was a determined run by the South Korean down the right wing that led to the equaliser.

His cross found Campbell whose shot was blocked instinctively by Hart, however his defence looked sluggish and failed to react quick enough to the second ball – allowing Aron Gunnarsson to sweep home from close range for their first Premier League goal.

From there, Cardiff didn’t look back.

At 1-1, the game was stretched wide open, however Cardiff continued to defend solidly throughout the game, impressively keeping the likes of Jesus Navas, David Silva and Sergio Aguero relatively quiet – something Newcastle had failed miserably to do on Monday night. This was key, and you felt the longer the game went without the visitors being able to assert themselves, the more this game was Cardiff’s for the taking.

And they did just that.

A whipped corner from Whittingham was missed entirely by a flapping Hart and Campbell read the flight well to head/shoulder the ball in at the back post. Cue pandemonium in the Welsh capital.

Pellegrini looked as stunned as his players did. They rallied together and drove forward with urgency to attempt to rescue the game with only ten minutes remaining. After the home side had weathered the storm, Cardiff pushed up themselves to win another corner – evidentially Man City’s kryptonite on the day.

Substitute Don Cowie curled the ball in from the left, and it was man of the moment Frazier Campbell who rose well to head his second of the afternoon three minutes from time, after losing a usually dependable Pablo Zabaleta.

Man City managed a consolation in stoppage time from substitute Alvaro Negredo who headed in from six yards out, but it wasn’t enough to stop the party in the stands, the home support cheekily celebrating the Poznan to rub salt into some raw Manchester City wounds.

On the day, Mackay’s gameplan was tactically superior and Cardiff deserved their victory. They stifled attacks from both the wings and centrally, making it almost impossible for the visitors’ creative magicians to slip balls between the back four, with Turner and Caulker looking stable and assured.

Impressively, after contracting their formation when out of possession, they expanded quickly when on the break – keeping the game open, stretching Man City and punishing them from set plays.

I have no doubt Man City will bounce back in emphatic style against other newcomers Hull next Saturday, but a message has been sent out to the other title challengers that the blue half of Manchester are far from infallible.

As for Cardiff, the cliched twelfth man in the the form of home support may just be the edge they need to stay in the league come May, and make a fortress out of Cardiff City Stadium.


  1. City are nothing at the back without Kompnay!!!


  1. […] Newcastle 0-0 West Ham Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool Cardiff City 3-2 Manchester City […]

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