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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 11 Mar 17 at 17:00 PM

Report: Cardiff City 1 Blues 1

Lukas Jutkiewicz was the hero as his last-gasp strike earned Blues a deserved point at the Cardiff City Stadium this afternoon.

Blues produced a battling display much to the delight of manager Gianfranco Zola as they came from behind to earn a draw against Cardiff City. The hosts took the lead at the beginning of the second-half, Joe Ralls converting from the penalty spot after Ryan Shotton was adjudged to have fouled Sean Morrison inside the six-yard area.

Blues rallied hard in search of an equaliser and responded with chances of their own before getting their just reward in the final minute of normal time, Jutkiewicz bundling home from substitute Che Adams' cross. 

Zola tinkered with his starting line-up, making three changes to the side that faced Wigan in midweek. Jutkiewicz and Krystian Bielik came in for Adams and Josh Dacres-Cogley, whilst Jonathan Grounds replaced the injured Cheick Keita.


Both sides made a relatively quiet start to the game as they looked to consolidate themselves early on, the hosts registering the first shot of the match in the second minute as defender Sol Bamba wrestled his way to the edge of the area only to see his effort blaze well wide of Tomasz Kuszczak in the Blues goal. 


Blues looked to respond immediately, Emilio Nsue receiving the ball from inside the left-flank and squaring it to Craig Gardner who composed himself twenty yards out before forcing Cardiff City goalkeeper Allan McGregor into a fine save down low to his left.


This seemed to galvanise the Blues players as they continued to create openings as the game went on, this time midfielder Robert Tesche played in Jutkiewicz through the channels only for defender Morrison to scupper any chance of a goal-scoring opportunity.


Midway through the first-half the hosts were awarded a free-kick just outside the box, David Davis bringing down Cardiff winger Junior Hoilett. Midfielder Anthony Pilkington a whisker away from putting the hosts ahead as his shot curled inches wide of the far post.


Ten minutes later, Davis and Jutkiewicz combined well down the right-flank to win a corner for Blues. Gardner whipped the ball into the box but defender Shotton failed to make a strong connection with his header and his effort fell to the feet of the Cardiff defence who cleared the ball out of danger.


As half-time approached Blues came close to breaking the deadlock, Gardner at the centre of things again as he worked his way into a central position before seeing his goal-bound effort deflected for a corner.


Seconds later, Blues had a genuine shout for a penalty as Bielik was bundled to the ground inside the box but the referee waved away the Blues protests much to the annoyance of the travelling fans.


And that was to be the last action of the first-half as the sides went in at the break goalless.


HALF TIME: CARDIFF 0 BLUES 0


Blues started the second-half with real urgency, Davis testing the hosts rearguard within a minute of the restart as he raced his way down the left-hand side before looking to feed in Jutkiewicz however Morrison was on hand to clear the ball out for a throw in.


Just as Blues began to look in the ascendancy they were hit with a sucker-punch in the 53rd minute as Cardiff were awarded a penalty, Shotton penalised for a push on Morrison.


Midfielder Ralls making no mistake from the spot, and putting the hosts a goal to the good.


Thereafter, chances were few and far between as Blues looked to step up a gear and test the Cardiff defence in search of an equaliser.


It wasn't long before Zola decided to freshen things up, making his first substitution just past the hour mark as Adams replaced Paul Robinson as Blues switched to a 4-3-1-2 formation.


Blues continued to press the hosts back-line with Adams making a big impact from the bench, firstly whipping a delightful ball into the box for Jutkiewicz but the striker couldn't get his header on target. Within a matter of minutes Adams was at it again, this time seeing his goal-bound effort blocked by Cardiff defender Joe Bennett.


As the match headed into the final quarter of an hour, the pressure was mounting and Blues came close again through Gardner - his free-kick producing a smart save from McGregor.


Blues continued to rally, and got their just reward in the closing stages as Jutkiewicz fired home from close range to draw the sides level in the 89th minute.


Adams skipped past his man down the left-flank before floating in an inch-perfect cross which was met by the head of Jutkiewicz, his initial header was saved by the on-rushing McGregor but the striker was on hand to tap in the rebound and send the Blues faithful into delirium and earn his side a deserved point.


Blues now turn their attention to Saturday's game with Newcastle United as they look to continue where they left off this afternoon.

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