Cardiff City earned a hugely dramatic—but arguably well warranted—2-2 draw against Manchester United on Sunday, as substitute Kim Bo-Kyung headed home an equaliser in stoppage time.
Patrice Evra’s header at the end of the first half, following on from strikes from Wayne Rooney and, for the home side, Fraizer Campbell, appeared to have ensured a somewhat subdued United side would leave Wales with all three points. However, Kim found himself in the right place to turn home Peter Whittingham’s pinpoint free-kick into the box.
It was another home result to be proud of for the Bluebirds, who have already beaten Manchester City and Swansea City in front of their home fans this season. That said, United manager David Moyes will be furious his side could not hold on for the win, having restricted Cardiff to few clear-cut chances despite their bristling intent.
"I think we played really well today," Cardiff boss Malky Mackay told Sky Sports afterwards. "I thought we created a lot, and we passed the ball well.
"It was the most complete performance we’ve had this season and it was against the champions. I’m delighted."
The team news brought a few surprises for United, with both Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa left out of proceedings due to injury. That meant Javier Hernandez was handed another chance to start, with Rooney and Adnan Januzaj tasked with providing him with adequate support.
Mackay, meanwhile, chose to bolster his midfield—with Campbell leading the line alone and Jordon Mutch and Peter Odemwingie tasked with supporting him.
The first incident of the game was perhaps the decisive one in the contest. Chasing after the ball down the left with less than 10 minutes of the game gone, Rooney got involved in a tussle with Mutch, eventually lashing out with his right foot as Don Cowie ran in and cleared the ball away.
Referee Neil Swarbrick took time to make his decision and eventually opted only to award a yellow card, a decision that Cardiff found hard to take even before the England man opened the scoring.
"Maybe the booking was sufficient," Mackay offered, somewhat doubtfully.
Rooney's goal came minutes later. Ben Turner’s errant clearance was quickly fired into the box by Antonio Valencia, with Rooney adroitly spinning and finishing, finding the near corner with the slight aide of a deflection off Gary Medel.
Cardiff have already taken some big scalps at home this season, however, and they were far from dismayed by giving up the early goal. They eventually got on terms through United old boy Campbell, the striker showing a clinical touch to fire beyond David De Gea after Mutch had played him in with a sublime reverse pass.
At this point Cardiff seemed to be growing into the ascendancy, with Campbell, Odemwingie and Whittingham all subsequently seeing half chances at goal scream well over. But after all that it was United who went into the break ahead; one of the smallest players on the pitch, Evra, evaded another, Medel, to rise highest and head home Rooney’s corner from close range.
That came moments before the interval, and after the break it was United who once again started the brighter. Twice Marshall was called into action, first to claw a Marouane Fellaini flick-on around his far post before using his legs to turn away Chris Smalling’s effort from the resultant corner.
Gradually, however, Cardiff began to grow in confidence—but it took a mistake from Tom Cleverley for them to finally threaten on goal and rattle the crossbar. The midfielder’s misguided pass only found Campbell, who thought he had added his second as his deft chip floated over De Gea’s head.
Fortunately for the visitors, however, the effort could not duck under the bar, as Mutch was unable to chase in the rebound.
Cardiff continued to press, although they struggled for a decisive ball to match Mutch’s first-half assist as dead-ball situations began to look like their most dangerous method of attack. Time and time again Whittingham and Medel put great balls into the box, with United increasingly on edge as they headed them away.
Moyes saw his side have chances to clinch matters, however. Substitute Danny Welbeck had two fine openings—one after great interplay with Rooney—before Smalling brought down another substitute, Craig Noone, down the Cardiff right.
|Cardiff City Player Ratings|
Entering stoppage time, this felt like Cardiff’s do-or-die moment. Whittingham duly produced another fine cross, and this time someone was on the end of it, Kim whipping his shirt off in delight after turning beyond De Gea from close range.
Even after all that, as the crowd inside the Cardiff City Stadium threatened to lift the roof off, United had a further chance to grab the win—Rooney finding himself clean through on goal before woefully under-hitting a cutback for Welbeck that enabled Marshall to gratefully dive on it.
If that was a squandered opening from United, it was nevertheless perhaps all Cardiff deserved as the final whistle eventually went and they were duly awarded the draw.
"I’m disappointed we did not take all three points in the end," Moyes told Sky Sports. "We gave away a stupid free-kick that gave away the late goal.
"But we had a few chances to secure the three points before that."
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|David De Gea||7|
Manchester United face two key fixtures, travelling to Bayer Leverkusen in a key Champions League encounter on Wednesday before visiting Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
Cardiff, meanwhile, welcome league leaders Arsenal to their fortress next Saturday.
(Note: GIFs via @FeintZebra; quotes obtained from Sky Sports match broadcast)