by George Willoughby
Neil Warnock made two changes to his side that were defeated 1-0 last Saturday courtesy of a strike from Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson. Junior Hoilett and Josh Murphy came into the starting eleven, with Greg Cunningham and Kadeem Harris missing out.
Wolves had pace in abundance with Adama Traoré and Raúl Jiménez leading the line.
The game began in a rather tentative fashion with neither side being able to hold onto the ball for a substantial amount of time.
The first half-chance of the game fell to Joe Ralls who unleashed a fierce volley whose effort was narrowly wide and the score would remain level.
The hosts settled the better of the two teams with Neil Warnock’s men managing to muster together some threatening attacks. Depsite Cardiff having the territorial advantage, it would be Wolves who took an early lead.
Matt Doherty was the quickest to react after Neil Etheridge pulled off a good initial save. He volleyed home the rebound and put the away side a goal to the good.
Wolves continued to apply pressure and you could see the confidence within the side. Their build-up play was significantly smoother and were starting to show why they have top-10 ambitions this season.
Getting the ball to playmaker Rúben Neves is imperative for Wolves going forward, and he started to see more of the ball as the game progressed. His impressive passing range is really noticeable and Wolves are a very good side when he is on song.
On the other hand Cardiff were very wasteful in their play and struggled to test Rui Patríco in the Wolves goal. However, Harry Arter came almightily close to levelling the scores after he rattled the post from a terrifically struck volley.
Wolves responded through Rúben Neves who also came close with an effort outside of the area which Neil Etherdige was happy to see fly wide of the post.
The Bluebirds had one final chance before the half when Callum Paterson did very well to knock the ball down for the onrushing Victor Camarasa. The number 21 completely missed the ball on the follow up and the danger was averted.
HALF-TIME : Cardiff 0 Wolves 1
Neil Warnock would have been disappointed with his teams showing in the first 45 and would have been demanding a response.
Victor Camarasa, who was bright in the first-half, almost gave his manager the perfect start to the second-half. His cross flashed across Rui Patrício’s six-yard line but no Cardiff player was there to latch onto it.
It was a very lively start to the half as shortly after Wolves had a great chance of their own. A long ball forward set Jiménez away but his volleyed effort sailed over the bar.
Cardiff came out a much better side, and they got a deserved goal. Sean Morrison flicked the ball on in the penalty area and the instinctive reactions of Aron Gunnarsson allowed the midfielder to fire Cardiff level.
You could see the goal breathed life into Warnock’s men as they really started to press and harass the Wolves players.
Junior Hoilett had a relatively quiet game until the 78th minute where a moment of magic sent the Cardiff faithful into raptures. The ball rolled to him outside the area and he expertly curled the ball in off the bar. A magnificent finish, one you don’t want to miss on Match of the Day that is for sure.
The visitors reacted and brought on some of their other offensive weapons. Diego Jota and Ivan Cavaleiro entered the fray and they linked up straight away. Jota played it through to Cavaleiro but his effort was comfortably saved by Cardiff keeper Etheridge.
At the other end, Joe Ralls was looking for a third goal for his side and he almost did just that. He struck low and hard at Patrício’s goal but a timely deflection took the ball out for a corner.
Cardiff showed great concentration and poise to finish off the game as winners. Sean Morrison put in a commanding performance but the plaudits will go to Junior Hoilett and rightly so.
An invaluable three points for Cardiff in their fight to avoid relegation.