x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Manchester City stunned by Cardiff City's Premier League charm

Shock of Premier League season tale of two cities, of disappointment and delight, of underachievement and extraordinary effort, writes Richard Jolly.

Cardiff City's Fraizer Campbell scores against Manchester City.
Cardiff City's Fraizer Campbell scores against Manchester City.

The first shock of the season was a tale of two cities, of disappointment and delight, of underachievement and extraordinary effort.

For Manchester City, fresh from their glorious demolition of Newcastle United, it was an unwelcome reminder of last season's poor displays on the road.

For Cardiff City, who made an underwhelming start to Premier League life in defeat at West Ham Unted, it was the day their campaign was kick-started.

Cardiff's win was based on incredible industry, allied with fervent support on a historic occasion. Their first score in top-flight football in 51 years came courtesy of Aron Gunnarsson and their first win was secured by Fraizer Campbell, who headed home two goals.

It was all the more admirable since they actually fell behind, the rehabilitated Edin Dzeko marking his rise in Manchester City's striking pecking order with a high-class goal.

If the danger was that Cardiff would be demoralised, instead they were inspired.

"They were fantastic to a man and deservedly won the game," said their manager, Malky Mackay.

His side were soon level. Gunnarsson reacted swiftly when Joe Hart parried Campbell's shot after Kim Bo-kyung had picked the forward out.

Then the absence of the injured Vincent Kompany told for Manchester City, as they twice conceded goals from corners.

However, Campbell's first goal was mostly Hart's fault. The increasingly error-prone goalkeeper flapped at Peter Whittingham's corner and Campbell headed in.

The former Manchester United forward repeated that feat, beating Pablo Zabaleta in the air and leaving manager Manuel Pellegrini blaming poor marking for his first defeat.

"Set-pieces are very important," said the Chilean. "They scored two goals from corners and that decided the game."

Substitute Alvaro Negredo opened his Manchester City account in added time, yet Cardiff nevertheless secured a famous win.

Their defensive defiance was epitomised by Ben Turner, flying at a Yaya Toure shot to block it.

In midfield, they were personified by Gary Medel, nicknamed the "Pit Bull" and snapping at the heels of his counterparts.

Campbell was a one-man forward line and never gave the City back four any peace.

"I think he gave Javi Garcia a very tough time during the game," Mackay said.

The Cardiff manager pinpointed Kompany's unconvincing deputy as a potential weak link.

His side showed no such fallibility.

"We were disciplined, organised and there was a lot of belief," Mackay said.

And, by the end, a lot of happy Cardiff fans.

Report card

Cardiff City Hugely committed and very determined, they thoroughly deserved this win. They could be strong at home this season. 10/10

Manchester City Defensive errors cost them. It shows why Pellegrini is trying to strengthen at the back. Hart is a concern. 4/10

Man of the match Campbell – Deserved huge praise even before he scored twice.


twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE