Cardiff City stole an incredible 2-1 win at Southampton after stoppage-time goals at either end saw the visitors complete an emotional week outside the relegation zone.
The Bluebirds looked to have been denied at St Mary’s as their supporters chanted the name of club-record signing Emiliano Sala throughout the first match since his body, discovered in plane wreckage in the English Channel, was identified.
Sol Bamba’s scarcely deserved opener was cancelled out by Jack Stephens in the 91st minute, but Cardiff still had time to rally once more.
Substitute Kenneth Zohore prodded a tame effort past stranded goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, allowing Neil Warnock’s men to celebrate an improbable triumph that sees them leapfrog Southampton and move up to 15th.
— Cardiff City FC (@CardiffCityFC) February 9, 2019
The Saints had the better of a low-key first half but, lacking a presence up front, struggled to create genuine opportunities, with Nathan Redmond dragging well wide when granted a rare sight of goal.
That was as close as the home side came to scoring before Cardiff, with their first effort of note, took the lead after 69 minutes when Bamba pounced on Callum Paterson’s header from a corner and poked the ball into the net.
It looked as though Cardiff would protect their clean sheet when Lee Peltier made a superb block from Charlie Austin after Neil Etheridge kept out Yan Valery, but Jack Stephens was left free from a set-piece and tucked home a right-foot effort in stoppage time.
The Bluebirds’ dogged defensive effort had seen five minutes added on, though, and they immediately put Southampton under pressure at the other end, resulting in Zohore’s scrappy finish following a lay-off from fellow substitute Victor Camarasa.
What does it mean? Momentum behind Bluebirds
Southampton could have pulled well clear of danger on Saturday but instead find themselves back in the mire. Cardiff have made a habit of winning late this season and this felt like a potentially season-defining moment. They have completed a league double over the Saints now – their first of the campaign – at least ensuring it remains congested at the bottom of the table.
Bamba and Bruno Ecuele Manga both defended bravely throughout, making several challenges within range of the Cardiff goal to ensure Neil Etheridge was scarcely tested. Then the former struck at the other end to cap an excellent display from the defensive duo.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has been praised since arriving at Southampton for the way he has used Redmond in a central striking position. But against a Cardiff defence that was happy to soak up pressure, the former Norwich City man’s role was problematic for the Saints. Redmond was too often crowded out and neither he nor Shane Long managed to get in behind the defence.
With both sides out of the FA Cup, there is a two-week break before they reprise this relegation battle. Southampton go to Arsenal on February 24, two days after Cardiff host Watford.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!