Campbell-inspired Cardiff stuns City
Two goals from Fraizer Campbell gave promoted Cardiff City a memorable 3-2 win on Sunday and left Manchester City nursing a first defeat of the Premier League season.
Although Edin Dzeko gave the visitors the lead with a rising strike from 25 yards, it was a day for the Bluebirds and their disbelieving fans thanks to Aron Gunnarsson’s equaliser and Campbell’s late brace.
It was the worst possible start for City on their travels, but a dream opening for Cardiff in front of a crowd of more than 27 000.
The atmosphere in the stadium was electric, with both sets of supporters giving their charges a boisterous welcome on a day that saw Cardiff playing a home game in the top flight for the first time in 51 years.
For Cardiff manager Malky Mackay, it could hardly have been a more testing examination, against a side whose season began with a 4-0 victory over Newcastle United last Monday.
City coach Manuel Pellegrini was forced into one change from that game, with Javi Garcia coming into the back four alongside Joleon Lescott in the absence of injured captain Vincent Kompany.
Lescott found himself in the thick of the action inside 90 seconds when Campbell latched onto Craig Bellamy’s pass before slipping on the edge of the six-yard box.
Peter Whittingham then went close with a free-kick from distance, with Cardiff looking well equipped in the early stages.
Despite playing with only Campbell up front, they supported the former Manchester United striker in numbers and caused the visiting defence one or two concerns.
Cardiff worked tirelessly to close City down, withdrawing all 10 outfield players behind the ball whenever the visitors crossed the half-way line.
Dzeko had one tame header comfortably saved by David Marshall after 30 minutes, but other than that, Cardiff rarely allowed the visitors an inch of space.
David Silva’s shot from distance, five minutes later, was their only attempt on target of the first half, but once again Marshall was well placed.
Four minutes before halftime, Campbell spurned a good opportunity to break the deadlock, with City goalkeeper Joe Hart rushing from his line to save following a poor back-header from Garcia.
Manchester City began the second half with greater purpose and in the 52nd minute, Dzeko produced a shot of supreme quality to break the deadlock.
Sergio Aguero cleverly flicked Yaya Toure’s pass into his path and Dzeko unleashed an unstoppable drive from outside the box.
Pellegrini introduced Samir Nasri shortly after Dzeko’s opener and, buoyed by the goal, City stepped on the gas and began to ask searching questions of last season’s Championship winners.
However, within eight minutes of falling behind, Cardiff were level.
Kim Bo-Kyung escaped down the right flank and crossed for Campbell, and although his shot was blocked at the near post by Hart, Gunnarsson followed up and beat the England goalkeeper from five yards.
City’s close-season signing Alvaro Negredo was sent on for the final 22 minutes of the game, with Dzeko giving way.
The home side continued to live dangerously by inviting City to attack them, with Silva shooting over and Steven Caulker blocking from Nasri, but it was Cardiff who struck next.
Hart failed to claim Whittingham’s in-swinging right-wing corner and Campbell charged in to head home from barely two yards.
Three minutes from time, the same formula produced the same result, with Campbell heading past Hart from a Don Cowie corner, and although Negredo bagged a stoppage-time header, it was too little, too late.