Championship
CardiffCardiff City1NorwichNorwich City2

Cardiff City 1-2 Norwich City: Hanley and Cantwell strike for Championship leaders

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Sport Wales at Cardiff City Stadium
Grant Hanley scores for Norwich
Grant Hanley's goal for Norwich was his first since August 2018

Norwich City weathered a second-half wobble to win at Cardiff City and tighten their grip on top spot in the Championship.

Grant Hanley's header and Todd Cantwell's rebound gave the Canaries a 2-0 half-time lead which scarcely reflected their domination.

Joe Ralls' powerful low strike after the break raised the prospect of an improbable Cardiff revival, only for their midfielder Marlon Pack to get sent off after a second booking with 20 minutes left.

Even down to 10 men, the Bluebirds pressed gamely for an equaliser but Norwich resisted their efforts to take another step towards an instant return to the Premier League.

Daniel Farke's side are now seven points clear at the Championship's summit after Bournemouth's home defeat against Luton Town, with second-placed Swansea City aiming to cut the gap back down to four when they visit Barnsley later on Saturday.

Cardiff, meanwhile, remain 15th in the table, closer to the relegation zone than they are the play-off places.

This was the second league meeting between the teams in less than a month, with Norwich strolling to a 2-0 win at Carrow Road in December.

For Cardiff, that was the start of a four-match losing run which had increased the pressure on their manager Neil Harris.

‘Stick with us’ Harris urges Cardiff fans

He had admitted his position was increasingly precarious but the feeling among some at the club seemed to be that a game against the Championship's best team was unlikely to decide his future - unless it was a particularly heavy and embarrassing defeat.

Such conjecture was put to one side this week following the news Sol Bamba, Cardiff's immensely popular centre-back, had been diagnosed with cancer.

His team-mates showed their support during the warm-up here, wearing shirts with Bamba's name and squad number 22 on the back and, on the front, the message: "We fight with you."

Bamba watched on from a hospitality box at Cardiff City Stadium as the hosts had the chance to score just 20 seconds into the game, but Harry Wilson's heavy touch saw him lose possession inside the penalty area.

As far as the first half was concerned, that was as good as it got for Cardiff as they were completely outplayed by their opponents.

Norwich took the lead in the third minute, Emiliano Buendia's corner flicked on by Mario Vrancic and headed in by captain Hanley.

As he did at Carrow Road last month, Cantwell ran the game for the Canaries as he cut inside from the left wing at will and drifted infield into pockets of space.

The England Under-21 international twice went close with curling shots from the edge of the box before scoring the goal his dazzling performance deserved as he volleyed into an empty net after Cardiff goalkeeper Alex Smithies had saved from Jordan Hugill.

Norwich kept creating chances after the break, Max Aarons' cross from a quickly taken free-kick finding Vrancic, whose shot was beaten away by Smithies.

Against the run of play, the visitors' lead was halved when Cardiff right-back Leandro Bacuna dribbled his way into space on the left wing to set up Ralls, who whipped the ball into the bottom corner.

However, the home side's hopes of a comeback were dealt a blow just five minutes later when Pack received a second yellow card in the space of 15 minutes for a reckless sliding tackle on Oliver Skipp.

Cardiff's 10 men launched some hopeful long balls into the Norwich penalty area in search of an equaliser - but those did not trouble the visitors as Harris' men slumped to a fifth successive defeat in all competitions.

While their opponents' promotion hopes look increasingly remote, Norwich now sit seven points clear at the top of the Championship and in a strong position to return to the Premier League after just one season away.

Cardiff City manager Neil Harris:

"I'm really proud of the performance - what an effort by the boys.

"What an effort for the 90 minutes, but for the last 25 with 10 men, we went toe-to-toe with by far the best team in the division.

"On the whole, it's a massive positive. It might sound crazy. We didn't get the point, if not three, we wanted, but that's the level of performance my players have got to have for the rest of the season."

Norwich City manager Daniel Farke:

"Pretty pleased, I'm proud I have to say. We had such a difficult week with so many Covid cases - nine in our group. Four players missed this game because of Covid. Also missing other players through flu.

"We also had several key players like [top scorer Teemu] Pukki through injury, so to travel to Cardiff and deliver that performance was outstanding.

"We could have made our life easier in the second half. They got a goal out of nothing but we got over the line. To win in these circumstances was outstanding."

Line-ups

Cardiff

Formation 4-3-3

  • 12Smithies
  • 7BacunaBooked at 34minsSubstituted forMurphyat 87'minutes
  • 16Nelson
  • 3Bennett
  • 32Bagan
  • 6Vaulks
  • 21PackBooked at 70mins
  • 8Ralls
  • 23WilsonBooked at 89mins
  • 9GlatzelSubstituted forMooreat 58'minutes
  • 33HoilettBooked at 57minsSubstituted forOjoat 58'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Phillips
  • 10Moore
  • 11Murphy
  • 27Ojo
  • 28Sang
  • 29M Harris
  • 35Evans
  • 36Patten

Norwich

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 50Barden
  • 2Aarons
  • 5Hanley
  • 34Gibson
  • 19Lungi Sørensen
  • 20Skipp
  • 23McLean
  • 17BuendíaSubstituted forOmobamideleat 90+5'minutes
  • 8VrancicSubstituted forPlachetaat 76'minutes
  • 14CantwellSubstituted forTetteyat 90+2'minutes
  • 9Hugill

Substitutes

  • 10Dowell
  • 11Placheta
  • 25Hernández
  • 27Tettey
  • 44Omobamidele
  • 52McCracken
  • 53Omotoye
Referee:
Tony Harrington

Match Stats

Home TeamCardiffAway TeamNorwich
Possession
Home46%
Away54%
Shots
Home12
Away17
Shots on Target
Home4
Away7
Corners
Home3
Away7
Fouls
Home26
Away15

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Cardiff City 1, Norwich City 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Cardiff City 1, Norwich City 2.

  3. Substitution

    Substitution, Norwich City. Andrew Omobamidele replaces Emiliano Buendía.

  4. Post update

    Hand ball by Jordan Hugill (Norwich City).

  5. Substitution

    Substitution, Norwich City. Alexander Tettey replaces Todd Cantwell.

  6. Post update

    Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by Curtis Nelson.

  7. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Przemyslaw Placheta (Norwich City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Todd Cantwell.

  8. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Josh Murphy (Cardiff City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

  9. Booking

    Harry Wilson (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  10. Post update

    Todd Cantwell (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Harry Wilson (Cardiff City).

  12. Post update

    Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Jacob Lungi Sørensen.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Oliver Skipp (Norwich City).

  14. Post update

    Kieffer Moore (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  15. Substitution

    Substitution, Cardiff City. Josh Murphy replaces Leandro Bacuna.

  16. Post update

    Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by Alex Smithies.

  17. Post update

    Attempt saved. Przemyslaw Placheta (Norwich City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Oliver Skipp.

  18. Post update

    Emiliano Buendía (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  19. Post update

    Foul by Kieffer Moore (Cardiff City).

  20. Post update

    Attempt missed. Kieffer Moore (Cardiff City) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Joel Bagan with a cross.

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As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Norwich24155433211250
2Swansea24137429131646
3Bournemouth24119438201842
4Brentford22118336211541
5Watford23117527171040
6Reading2312473428640
7Middlesbrough2310672819936
8Stoke249962723436
9Bristol City2311392524136
10Barnsley24104102731-434
11Blackburn2496939281133
12Luton249692126-533
13Preston24102123033-332
14Huddersfield2494112834-631
15Cardiff2385103027329
16Millwall2351172024-426
17Coventry236892231-926
18Birmingham2468101829-1126
19Nottm Forest2467111927-825
20QPR235992230-824
21Sheff Wed2367101523-819
22Rotherham2154122029-919
23Derby2347121425-1119
24Wycombe2336141635-1915
View full Championship table

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