A second-half strike from Juan Cala secured Cardiff a precious 1-0 win against Southampton in the Premier League.
Despite sitting in mid-table security, it was Southampton who had the hunger of a side threatened with relegation as their incessant pressing coupled with incisive passing saw them open up a flat Cardiff with ease in the first half.
However, a combination of profligate finishing, bad luck and solid goalkeeping from David Marshall ensured the sides went to the interval at parity.
The only time Marshall was beaten – by a deflected Gaston Ramirez strike – the crossbar came to his rescue but, given the fact that he had twice denied Rickie Lambert, he earned his luck.
And, while the hosts were in the ascendancy, they were restricted to shots from distance for much of the second period bar a Lambert header and their lack of cutting edge was punished on 65 minutes, when Juan Cala opening the scoring with a strike from distance.
The Saints re-doubled their efforts but could not force the equaliser as Marshall again denied them twice with super stops as the game drew to a close.
First, he denied substitute Sam Gallagher from point-blank range following a cute through-ball from Morgan Schneiderlin before pushing a Nathaniel Clyne effort that had looked destined for the bottom corner wide.
Wilfried Zaha could have put further gloss on an already polished performance but was denied by Paulo Gazzaniga. It mattered little though as the visitors secured a precious win to breathe new life into their battle against relegation.
11’ CHANCE! Cardiff continue to be wasteful in possession – this time it is Fabio who gives it away. Lambert feeds Lallana but Caulker just gets to it before the England man can shoot.
21’ CROSSBAR! The Saints scythe through the Cardiff midfield and Lallana works the ball to Ramírez, whose shot deflects off Caulker and hits the crossbar.
26’ GOOD SAVE. Lambert whips the ball up and over the wall but Marshall reads his intentions to push the ball wide.
31’ CHANCE! Lambert shows a great sleight of foot to beat Theophile-Catherine at close quarters before prodding an effort at goal. Marshall turns in wide, though.
65’ GOAL! GOOD GRIEF! A lofted free-kick is headed clear to Cala on the edge, he takes it on the chest and evades a challenge before firing past Gazzaniga from the edge.
75’ WHAT A SAVE! Schneiderlin lifts the ball over the top to Gallagher but Marshall makes an extraordinary point-blank save to keep his side in the lead.
82’ SAVE AGAIN! McNaughton’s clearance is loose to Clyne and he fires on goal from just outside the box. It looks destined for the bottom corner but Marshall does incredibly well to get a hand to it and turn it around the post!!
89’ OH, MAZY RUN! What a goal that would have been – Zaha breaks free from the halfway line and skips past two challenges as he slaloms into the box. He fires on goal but Gazzaniga makes the save.
The reverse fixture in December was Malky MacKay’s last match in charge of Cardiff, Southampton won 3-0.
This is Mauricio Pochettino’s 50th PL match in charge. His record in his first 50 matches is: W17-D16-L17, 69 goals scored, 65 goals conceded, winning 67 points.
Southampton had won their last five league matches against promoted opposition.
Southampton lose to newly promoted opposition for the first time in 16 matches, since Nov 2001 (vs. Blackburn).
TALKING POINT: Can this win provide a springboard for Cardiff to survive relegation? Although a crucial win, Cardiff were pretty poor for much of the game. Wilfried Zaha looked bright when he came on and must start if they have any hope of securing the “great escape”.
MAN OF THE MATCH: David Marshall (Cardiff City): Made two wonderful saves to secure this crucial of crucial wins. He has been the one bright spark in a torrid season.
SOUTHAMPTON: Gazzaniga 6, Chambers 6, Fonte 6, Lovren 5, Shaw 6, Cork 6, Schneiderlin 6, S. Davis 6, Ramírez 5, Lallana 7, Lambert 6. Subs: Clyne 5, Guly 5, Gallagher 6.
CARDIFF: Marshall 8, Caulker 6, Whittingham 6, Medel 4, Campbell 6, Kim 5, Mutch 5, Cala 6, Theophile-Catherine 5, Daehli 5, Fabio 5. Subs: McNaughton 5, Zaha 6, Bellamy 5.
MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- David Marshall
- Rickie Lambert
- Juan Cala