If Cardiff thought all they needed to do to survive in the Premier League was to rely upon their new January signings, well, they learned a harsh lesson against Swansea on Saturday. The hosts finally looked like the side that often enthralled last season – in the second half, at least. Three Swans goals in the final 45 minutes means Cardiff are still suffering, sitting 19th and still three points from safety.
The first half got off to a terrific start, with both sides playing some fine soccer. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and this particular good thing ended quicker than most. With both sides anxious to avoid relegation, the quick start faded away into cautious play before the whistle blew at the end of the first 45.
Before five minutes were out, Swansea had a penalty appeal waved away. Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall came out to challenge Wilfried Bony, who was free on goal. The challenge looked perfectly fine, terrific even, with Marshall just nicking the ball off Bony’s feet. The home side hoped for the spot kick, but the referee made the right decision.
Cardiff missed a great chance to take the lead in the 24th minute. Craig Bellamy came flying up the left, exchanging a neat one-two with Declan John. Bellamy perhaps should’ve taken the shot for himself, but instead put the cross in for Kenwyne Jones. The forward’s shot went just barely wide.
Fortunately for all those contemplating an afternoon nap, Swansea – who’ve scored the vast majority of their goals this season in the second half – woke us all up with a goal early after the restart. Gary Monk replaced loanee Marvin Emnes with Pablo Hernández, who needed just two minutes to make an impact. His through ball sliced through the Bluebirds to find Wayne Routledge, who cut inside before sending his shot into the bottom right corner.
It’s enough to make you wonder why the Spaniard wasn’t on from the start.
The goal woke up viewers and it woke up Cardiff. Just a few minutes later, Bellamy shook off Chico Flores to try his luck from the edge of the box. His powerful shot shook the upright, and the hosts breathed once more.
Still Swansea had to search for a second goal, worried that their often leaky defense might result in dropping points. It finally came in the 80th minute, after some lovely play from the Swans. Hernández was involved once more, but it was Routledge’s looping cross that caught the eye. Nathan Dyer came diving in, doubling Swansea’s lead when his header landed in the bottom left corner.
Hernández must be a shoo-in for a return to the starting lineup after the third goal. John fouled Dyer on the right side of the area, and Pablo’s fantastic, curving free kick looped into the center of the box. Bony sent his sharp header into the roof of the net, ensuring all three points went to Swansea.
Swansea City: Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, Britton, de Guzman (Cañas 69), Emnes (Hernandez 45), Dyer (Taylor 88), Routledge, Bony
Goals: Routledge 47′; Dyer 79′; Bony 85′
Cardiff City: Marshall; John, Caulker, Turner, Fabio (McNaughton 69); Whittingham, Medel, Kim, Zaha (Mutch 77); Bellamy, Jones (Campbell 55)