REPORT: CARDIFF 2-1 CITYCARDIFF City survived a barrage of Norwich City attacks in the latter stages of the game to hold onto a 2-1 win on Saturday afternoon at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Former Canaries stopper David Marshall produced two stunning saves to deny Nathan Redmond and Gary Hooper, while Robert Snodgrass was stopped by the post.
Snodgrass had given Chris Hughton's team the lead after just five minutes, but a two-goal salvo soon after half-time turned things around for the South Wales side as Craig Bellamy and Kenwyne Jones scored from close range.
Norwich pressed valiantly to try and salvage something from the contest, but were once again thwarted by an inspired Marshall with the loss leaving them just two points clear of the Premier League relegation places.
Hughton decided to make three changes from the 0-0 draw with Newcastle United on Tuesday, with Johan Elmander returning in attack and Alex Tettey and Jonas Gutierrez in midfield.
Cardiff gave debuts to Fabio da Silva and Jones, while fellow new recruits Magnus Eikram, Mats Daehli and Wilfried Zaha had to be content with places on the bench.
Jordon Mutch attempted an overhead kick in just the second minute as the hosts looked to get off to a fast start, but City settled and Gutierrez headed over from Russell Martin’s delivery.
It took only five minutes for the Canaries to then take the lead – Bradley Johnson, eligible for selection after having his red card against Newcastle rescinded, slid Martin Olsson in on the left.
The Swedish international’s cross deflected nicely into the path of Snodgrass, who made no mistake from eight yards out.
It was his third goal of the season, and Cardiff continued to look uncertain at the back, with Craig Noone having their first shot of any note on 26 minutes.
They had their best spell of the match in the minutes after, but Peter Whittingham wasted a free-kick from 20 yards, clearing the crossbar.
Johnson had a shot blocked up the other end after a slick City move, before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a tactical switch, bringing on Zaha for his debut, replacing Whittingham, but the visitors were able to hold onto their advantage until half-time.
HALF-TIME: Cardiff City 0-1 Norwich City
Cardiff got their equaliser four minutes into the second half – Gary Hooper’s misplaced pass across his own area was picked up by Zaha, and he passed through to Bellamy who finished past Ruddy.
The game swung completely two minutes later as the hosts took the lead, with more poor Canaries defending contributing.
They failed to deal with a corner, and Jones was on hand in the six yard box to power the ball into the roof of the net, sending the home crowd into delight.
City almost hit back immediately as David Marshall tipped Johnson’s effort onto the bar, before Snodgrass nodded over from Martin Olsson’s cross.
Chris Hughton made a triple substitution with 15 minutes left as Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Leroy Fer and Nathan Redmond were introduced to the fray.
Redmond had a goal ruled out rightly for offside, before two outstanding pieces of Cardiff defending kept them in front.
Firstly, Marshall somehow reached down to his right to keep out Redmond low drive from the edge of the box, and then Bellamy was on the line to clear Hooper’s backward header.
Martin’s volley deflected just over as City’s pressure on the home goal grew more intense, but Marshall was on hand again to palm the ball away.
Incredibly, the woodwork was next to deny City, with Snodgrass’ header cannoning off the post from Redmond’s corner, before the Scotland winger was then offside as he assisted Hooper.
Sebastien Bassong headed over the Canaries looked to be running out of time, and indeed a Cardiff corner in the final moments ensured they were able to play down the clock to the finish.
FULL-TIME: Cardiff City 2-1 Norwich City
GOALS: Bluebirds: Craig Bellamy (49), Kenwyne Jones (51) - Canaries: Robert Snodgrass (5)
CARDIFF CITY: Marshall; Fabio (Theophile-Catherine 75), Caulker (c), Turner, John; Noone, Mutch (Gunnarsson 67), Medel, Whittingham (Zaha 38); Bellamy, Jones. Subs not used: Lewis (GK), Campbell, Eikrem, Daehli.
NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Martin, R Bennett, Bassong, Olsson; Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson (Fer 75), Gutierrez (Redmond 75); Elmander (van Wolfswinkel 75), Hooper. Subs not used: Bunn (GK), Whittaker, Pilkington, Becchio.
REFEREE: Mark Clattenburg