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Cardiff boss Erol Bulut praises influence of Liverpool loanee Nat Phillips

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 2 Mar 2024

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Erol Bulut hailed the impact of Liverpool loanee Nat Phillips after Cardiff completed a Severnside derby double over Bristol City.

Perry Ng’s second-half header gave Cardiff a 1-0 success at Ashton Gate and back-to-back wins for the first time since October.

The Robins’ best moments were snuffed out by centre-back Phillips, who has proved a key player since arriving from Anfield in January.

“Nat is a big add to us, he gives confidence in the defence and organises the defence,” said Cardiff manager Bulut after his side had leapfrogged their opponents in the Championship standings.

“Other players next to him are acting on it and that’s important.

“He has played for Liverpool and Celtic, big teams, and he knows when you get pressure how to stay calm.

“He gives this to the other players too and with (goalkeeper) Ethan (Horvath) there now we can also play better from the back.”

Cardiff’s 66th-minute winner was their 17th goal from a set-piece this season – a Championship high.

Ng rose highest from a David Turnbull corner for his sixth goal of the season and second against Bristol City after scoring in Cardiff’s 2-0 home win over the Robins in October.

Bulut said: “I think the game was 50-50 over the 90 minutes, but congratulations to my players because they worked really hard and the luck was on our side.

“We are one of the best teams in the league from set-pieces.

“We always work on it and, if you analyse my previous clubs, it’s something we did there too.

“We kept our concentration and closing down the spaces, so I am happy.

“We are getting a little confidence back, which is good, and we have to stay together.”

Bristol City have now lost three in a row since winning at Middlesbrough and beating promotion-chasing Southampton at home.

A chorus of boos from home fans greeted the final whistle and boss Liam Manning said he would “take it on the chin”.

Manning said: “I’ve got thick skin. Of course I don’t want to hear it.

“I want the team to perform and succeed, I’ve had to fight and scrap in my career to get where I am.

“I’ll take it on the chin, be calm and get ready to go again on Tuesday.”

Asked what the Robins were short on in defeat, Manning replied: “Quality in the final third.

“We need people to step up and take responsibility in high-pressure moments and deliver.

“On the goal, set-pieces are probably Cardiff’s biggest threat – and most of their goals come from first contacts as well – and it’s hugely annoying.

“I didn’t think there was a huge amount of quality from both sides, so you’ve got to make sure you don’t lose and it finishes 0-0.”

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