Joe Bennett

Fulham win, Cardiff on the brink (video)

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  • Babel scores winner
  • Third-straight win for Fulham
  • Cardiff 3 points from safety, two games to go

Already-relegated Fulham won a third-straight Premier League game with a shutout as they beat Cardiff City 1-0 at Craven Cottage to push their opponents closer to the drop.

Ryan Babel smashed home an incredible strike to win it for Fulham who impressed throughout, while Cardiff sat back and then pummelled the Fulham goal late on but a combination of Sergio Rico making stops and poor finishing saw the Bluebirds lose.

After a third-straight win Fulham move on to 26 points, while Cardiff have 31 points and face Crystal Palace and Manchester United in their final two games of the season. Neil Warnock‘s side will likely have to win both to stay up, and even then it may not be enough.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

There was an even start to the game as Sean Morrison went down in the box and appealed for a penalty kick after tussling with Mitrovic.

At the other end Mitrovic was then denied by Neil Etheridge who made a fine save across his goal to deny Fulham’s top goalscorer.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

A worrying moment then arrived as Denis Odoi was kicked in the face by his own teammate Maxime Le Marchand and appeared to be knocked out instantly. Odoi was down for almost 10 minutes receiving treatment before being carried off the pitch on a stretcher.

After that lengthy break in play Fulham were the better team as Ryan Sessegnon went close.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Mitrovic spurned a glorious chance at the start of the second half as Tom Cariney picked him out, but the Serbian striker fired way over the bar. At the other end Cardiff started to push men forward as Leandro Bacuna slipped at a vital moment.

Late on Cardiff threw themselves at the ball as Joe Bennett denied Joe Bryan with a great last-ditch tackle. Mitrovic curled another effort just over as Fulham looked the more likely to score and then they did.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Babel curled home a magnificent strike to make it 1-0, as his sensational strike from distance was his fourth goal in his last six games. But that strike sprung Cardiff into life as Sergio Rico saved on multiple occasions.

Bennett went close but Rico saved, then Hoilett hit the crossbar and Rico then denied Bennett, Morrison (twice) and Danny Ward who all should have scored.

Somehow Fulham held on for the win which pushed Cardiff closer to relegation.

Warnock: Cardiff kept “a good account of ourselves” despite tragedy

(Nick Potts/PA via AP)
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Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock and his men have gone through a terrible week, more so than we knew before kickoff at Arsenal on Tuesday.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 2-1 Cardiff ]

He saw club record signing Emiliano Sala’s plane go missing en route to Wales, as searches continue for the aircraft, Sala, and the pilot. And left back Joe Bennett lost his father earlier this week!

The Bluebirds would’ve been forgiven had they “not had it” in a 2-1 loss to the Gunners, but they nearly got a point from the Top Four-chasing hosts.

“We talked about Emiliano (Sala) before the game and I thought it was appropriate that we gave a good account of ourselves against a good side and I thought we could’ve won the game.

“Joe Bennett was superb. He lost his father three days ago but to then play like that, I’m really pleased with him.”

Warnock also said he would be hard-pressed to think Cardiff will land a striker before the end of the January window.

“I worked on Emiliano for a couple of months and I can’t see us bringing in anyone upfront – we won’t get anyone like Emiliano, but we could bring in one or two defenders.”

Wagner slams officials as “clear” penalty kick overturned

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David Wagner was not a happy man after Huddersfield’s 0-0 draw at Cardiff City on Saturday.

The Terriers dominated the game and thought they had been given the opportunity to score from the penalty spot late in the second half after Joe Bennett brought down Florent Hadergjonaj in the box and referee Lee Mason awarded a penalty kick.

However, Mason consulted his linesman and overturned the decision to award Huddersfield a penalty.

That decision could be pivotal in their season as the Terriers remain bottom of the Premier League table, without a win in nine games and eight points from safety.

“There are four people in black and you have to ask them what was going on. I spoke to the linesman during the match and he said ‘the first incident was not a foul and the second I don’t know’ but I don’t know what he means,” Wagner fumed. “It was clearly a penalty, the video footage speaks for itself and we have not got it. It makes no sense to waste my energy for something like this, but it was a big mistake. I really can’t find the words how this can happen. The fourth official had no idea either, he was as surprised as everyone else was. Decisions like this make tables and seasons. We have had so many decisions against us and I don’t know why. The boys left everything on the grass, and only one team deserved something out of the game. One point is not enough, we needed to win.”

Cardiff’s manager Neil Warnock had a slightly different view on the penalty decision…

“I think it is good there was an experienced linesman. There was not enough contact for a penalty and the linesman made him change his mind. If that had won them the game I would’ve been disappointed,” Warnock told BBC’s Match of the Day.

There is no doubt there was contact on Hadergjonaj and although Warnock stated that the Huddersfield player was lucky to not give away a penalty in the first half for catching Junior Hoilett, he knows that Cardiff got away with one here.

You can count on one hand the times when a referee has given a penalty kick then trusted his linesman to overturn the decision, and in this case there really wasn’t that much evidence to suggest it wasn’t a penalty kick. The contact was clear, although no forceful, and Mason was pretty clear with his original decision.

When you are down the bottom like Huddersfield are, these are the kind of things which go against you and the Terriers can feel hard done by as they dominated the game and if either team deserved to win it was them.

Cardiff held by Huddersfield (video)

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  • Huddersfield end run of 8-straight defeats
  • 1 win in six for Cardiff
  • Terriers remain bottom of table

Cardiff City and Huddersfield played out a tight, tense scoreless draw at the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday as the away side had the better chances and their bad luck continues.

In the second half Huddersfield’s Florent Hadergjonaj had won a penalty kick but referee Lee Mason consulted with his linesman and decided to overturn the decision.

With the draw Huddersfield have 11 points, while Cardiff have 19 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

The first big chance of the game fell to Huddersfield as Jason Puncheon fired just wide from distance.

At the other end Nathaniel Mendez-Laing found Junior Hoilett at the back post with a wonderful cross, but the Canadian winger was just put off by Florent Hadergjonaj at the crucial moment.

Huddersfield continued to look bright as Jason Puncheon played in Elias Kachunga but Joe Bennett blocked superbly to deny the Terriers.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Neil Etheridge then pushed the ball over after Steve Mounie mishit an effort and it spun up into the air awkwardly.

Huddersfield were by far the better team in the first half as Cardiff just couldn’t get going.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

In the second half Huddersfield continued to look sharper in attack as Cardiff couldn’t get anything going.

Puncheon’s shot from distance was headed wide by Sol Bamba and Huddersfield just kept pushing Cardiff back. Callum Paterson‘s deflected shot looped just over as the Bluebirds finally woke up late in the game.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Huddersfield thought they had been given a penalty kick as Hadergjonaj was pushed in the box by Bennett, but referee Lee Mason consulted with his linesman and they then decided it was not a penalty kick. The contact was minimal but Huddersfield had every right to feel hard done by.

Late on Etheridge denied Laurent Depoitre’s header, as both teams had to settle for a point.

PL Preview: Cardiff City v. Manchester United

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  • Manchester United has lost its last three league away matches against promoted sides, as many as it had in its previous 36 games.
  • Cardiff City has won four of its last five Premier League home matches, as many as it had in its previous 22 games in league play.
  • Of the 31 players with at least five PL goals this season, Romelu Lukaku has scored the highest percentage of them away from home. His five strikes on the road out of six works out as 83 percent of his goals.

A new era begins as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer makes his Manchester United managerial debut in prime time on Saturday at his former club, Cardiff City (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

After a shocking start to the season that fell way below club expectations, Solskjaer now has the task of lifting sixth-place Manchester United back into the top four places, although he has to make up 11 points from here through the end of the season. Cardiff City meanwhile is coming off a wild 3-2 defeat to Watford but is sitting just two points above the drop zone. A point at home for the Bluebirds would be crucial for their Premier League survival.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Solskjaer will be shorthanded for the match as Alexis Sanchez, Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling remain out, while Romelu Lukaku hasn’t trained all week. On the plus side, Anthony Martial, Diego Dalot and Victor Lindelof have all been declared fit.

For Cardiff, Neil Warnock‘s side is only missing Joe Bennett for the big match.

What they’re saying

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on adjusting to the new job: “The job now is to get to know the players, observe them, see the qualities that we’ve got,” he added. “Of course, I’ve seen more or less every game from Norway when I’ve had time from the other job [as Molde boss]. But, to get to know the players and think about what I can do to improve them, that’s my job.”

Cardiff City’s Neil Warnock on facing Man United: 

“So many players will be wanting to prove certain things. There are some talented, young players there, and people like Rashford, Lingard, Martial, Mata and Pogba all have things to prove. It will be a difficult game for us in the circumstances. They’ve got pace and power everywhere. We’ll be trying to give them a good game, but we’ll need everyone to be at their best to get a result. It would be lovely to be outside the bottom three for Christmas. We’re disappointed we haven’t got a few more points, but it’s not for the lack of trying – we’ve just got to keep going.

“Anything can happen, and I think we can get a result at home against anybody. We will give it a good shot tomorrow, and the fans will be right behind us. I’m sure we will give a good account of ourselves.”

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Prediction

Cardiff City’s four wins this season have all come at home, where they’ll be on Saturday against a banged-up Man United squad. There’s pace and some decent attackers in Junior Hoilett and Josh Murphy and they could cause Man United some troubles. Solskjaer’s side’s overall quality should help them overcome some of the defensive deficiencies but not all. Cardiff City 2-2 Manchester United