Derby Delight For Cardiff City
Cardiff City staged a brave comeback to beat fierce local rivals Swansea City thanks to an emphatic brace from Michael Chopra.
The Swans started poorly, and looked awed by the occasion, McCormack having two shots fly wide when well placed. By contrast, misplaced passes by Pratley, Dyer and co disrupted the Jacks flow for the opening 15 minutes. After that point, the Jacks came much more into it, though they rarely found lone frontman Pintado and were restricted to a couple of Van der Gun efforts.
However, the Swans took the lead after half an hour when awarded a dubious corner. I had a good view of the incident and wwas sure the ball stayed in, TV replays showed that to be the case but far far closer than I'd though. David Marshall felt particularly aggrieved. Andrea Orlandi swung in a dangerous corner which flew in with Marshall under severe pressure from Ashley Williams. You often see theses incidents given as fouls, but contact was minimal and we have to defend better than that.
The goal settled Swansea, but set-pieces were their main threat, Whittingham's effort was deflected wide for Cardiff while Bothroyd's back post header also missed the target. Just as Swansea looked to be taking a half-time lead into the dressing-rooms, Cardiff City equalised with a goal from nothing. It was a floated ball into the box, too straight to cause real danger but Bothroyd won the flick allowing Michael Chopra's perfectly timed run to flick the ball past de Vries. There was only a few yards gap, but Chopra showed brilliant poise and guile to steal in.
After the break, Swansea enjoyed even more possession but again failed to make an impact in the final third. They picked up a lot of loose ball in midfield but could not convert that into meaningful chances. The welcome return of Joe Ledley was greeted by a standing ovation while McCormack's break from a Marshall clearance produced a good chance until the Scotsman shot wide with Whittingham better placed. Cotterill's shot from distance was comfortably held by Marshall at the other end.
There was bound to be late drama after the last home derby, and so it proved as two Swansea substitutes combined with Shefki Kuqi denied by a brilliant save with his legs by Cardiff keeper Marshall. Cotterill's free-kick had been guided goalwards by the Finn's header, but Marshall reacted superbly to save the day. With both sides seemingly settling for a point, a weak Swans clearance was headed blindly goalwards by sub Aaron Wildig for the lurking Chopra to once again time his run suberbly and fire low past de Vries for an emphatic winner.
A superb result for the Bluebirds, both sides deserved a point in truth but Michael Chopra's intelligence and finishing proved the difference. If Swansea had such a player....