Goalscorers: Edin Dzeko 51, Aron Gunnarsson 59, Fraizer Campbell 78, 86, Alvaro Negredo 90
Cardiff City: David Marshall, Ben Turner, Steven Caulker, Andrew Taylor, Matthew Connolly, Kim Bo-Kyung (Jordon Mutch 90), Gary Medel, Aron Gunnarsson, Peter Whittingham, Fraizer Campbell (Andreas Cornelius 90), Craig Bellamy (Don Cowie 83)
Manchester City: Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott, Javi Garcia, Gael Clichy, Pablo Zabaleta, Fernandinho (James Milner 77), Yaya Toure, David Silva, Jesus Navas (Samir Nasri 55), Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko (Alvaro Negredo 69)
Referee: Lee Probert, Attendance: 27,068
This was Cardiff City’s first home game in the Premier League and it couldn’t have been much harder than against a highly-fancied Manchester City side. Manuel Pellegrini was the new manager of the Citizens’ and he started brilliantly with a convincing 4-0 win over Newcastle United. This though was a lesson for the Chilean that English football was not going to be a walk in the park.
Cardiff might have lost 2-0 on the opening weekend away to West Ham United but they were determined to put in a performance than would send the fans home happy. They did more than that. The hosts started full of energy and running and controlled the first 30 minutes. However, they struggled to trouble England number one goalkeeper Joe Hart. Peter Whittingham’s free-kick which flew wide was the closest they came to opening the scoring.
The visitors’ started to test the home defence and nearly went into the interval leading. Only last-gasp defending from Ben Turner stopped Yaya Toure from scoring. They did strike though in the early moments of the second half. 30 yards out, Edin Dzeko tried his luck and the Bosnian’s shot drove past a helpless David Marshall.
Pellegrini’s side had wrestled control but they only held onto their lead for just eight minutes. Cardiff dug deep and got a bit of fortune with their equaliser. Hart saved well from Fraizer Campbell but the rebound fell nicely to Icelandic international Aron Gunnarsson who scored the club’s first-ever Premier League goal.
The home supporters went mad for this moment but even better would follow. With 12 minutes left to play, the upset was on. Whittingham delivered a dangerous corner into the heart of the Manchester City penalty area. Hart failed to show his commanding presence and Campbell was in the right place to score from close-range. It might have come off his shoulder but he didn’t care and nor did the fans inside the Cardiff City Stadium.
Pellegrini was missing skipper Vincent Kompany from this game because of injury. Spaniard Javi Garcia had been deployed as a makeshift central defender and it is fair to say he struggled to cope in the new position. Ex-Manchester United youngster Campbell put in the best performance of his Premier League career. He added his second three minutes from time, heading home following a corner with the visiting defence once more flat-footed. Cardiff’s first win in the top-flight of English football since 1962 was secured.
Substitute Alvaro Negredo did pull a goal back in the dying moments but no-one could deny Cardiff victory. In the final reckoning, Manchester City became champions and Cardiff were relegated but on this day, this was another example that no Premier League match has ever been decided on paper.