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8 March 2014
• Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff (Caerdydd)
Referee: M. Atkinson
• Attendance: 26796
S. Caulker 45'+, 67'
S. Riether 71' (own goal)
L. Holtby 59'
FULL-TIME: Cardiff City 3-1 Fulham. Two goals for Steven Caulker and an own-goal from Sascha Riether have inspired the Welsh side to a priceless win and only their second in nine Premier League games. Lewis Holtby's strike sandwiched Caulker's double but the hosts were well worth the three points, which sees them move ahead of Sunderland and level on points with West Bromwich Albion on 25 points, with only goal difference separating the sides. For the visitors, this result leaves them four points adrift of safety and even the most ardent supporters would acknowledge it is mission impossible for the Cottagers now.
90' + 3'
Fulham continue to probe but with little success and it's Cardiff who go closest to another goal, as Daehli runs at Hangeland but can only arrow his shot wide of the target. I'm sure his team-mates will let him off on this occasion.
90' + 1'
The Cardiff fans - and Fulham fans for that matter - both want to hear the final whistle, for entirely contrasting reasons. What a huge win this could prove for the Bluebirds in the final reckoning.
Kevin Theophile Catherine
Solskjaer is now preparing to bring on Bellamy to shore things up for his side but it is actually Kevin Theophile-Catherine who actually comes on in the end.
The pace of the game is starting to peter out ever so slightly and Fulham are struggling to thread any sort of passes together in the final third to grab a second.
Mitroglou attempts to control a long ball over the top of the Cardiff defence rather ambitiously with his left foot and cushion the ball into a team-mate's path, but Marshall gathers.
OFFSIDE: Sidwell thinks he has got his side back in it and set up a granstand finale in the process, but the flag is raised for offside, after latching onto a ball to stoop and send a diving header past Marshall into the far corner.
Cardiff make their second change of the contest as the quiet Gary Medel comes off and is replaced by Solskjaer's first signing since taking over in Magnus Eikrem.
Noone intercepts a loose Hangeland pass and runs at the back four but his touch is heavy and leads him away from goal, where Heitinga is able to dispossess the nippy winger and clear.
The move almost immediately pays off as Mitroglou sees a looping header roll just wide of the far post before he catches a left-footed volley sweetly, but Marshall did well to get across and save.
Fulham bring on their own sub as, after some initial confusion that it would be Mitroglou who would come off, young Woodrow - who made little if any impression on the game - is replaced by Darren Bent.
Campbell's impressive performance comes to an end as Solskjaer brings on Mats Daehli in place of the striker.
Own Goal Sascha Riether
GOAL! That should seal it and the Cardiff City Stadium is in raptures as the hosts notch a third. It is not altogether clear who got the goal, with a combination of Mutch, Riether and Campbell all going for the ball after the former had seen his header from Noone's inswinging cross saved by Stekelenburg.
The ball is played into Mitroglou in a promising position inside the area, but he is flagged for offside and his shot was tame anyway, with Marshall saving.
Assist Jordon Mutch
Goal Steven Caulker
GOAL! And from the resulting set piece, Cardiff are back in front! The ball is flighted all the way to the back post and it finds Caulker, who gets up above everyone to nod down and past Stekelenburg. What a massive goal that could be for the hosts.
Cardiff force another succession of corners, which bring chances for Kim, Mutch and Campbell. Another is upcoming...
Sidwell catches Mutch while the Cardiff midfielder was in full flow and it presents the Bluebirds with a free-kick just outside the area. The ball is weighted perfectly and fools Hangeland but there is no-one on hand to apply a finishing touch.
Fulham look reinvigorated by the goal but are fortunate that Cardiff waste an oppotunity to whip the ball in, with only Jones in the centre and the plethora of players on the left wing unable to offer any support.
Assist John Heitinga
Goal Lewis Holtby
GOAL! Fulham are level and it's Holtby who has it but the German cannot believe his luck at being afforded so much space in the penalty area from Karagounis' corner. Heitinga flicked it on and it fell at the feet of the January loan signing, who tucked home from close range.
A clever ball into the are from Richardson falls to Mitroglou but he fluffs his big lines badly, somehow managing to scoop the ball up into the air and to a grateful Marshall. A good opening that for the Greek and for Fulham.
Yellow Card Bo-Kyung Kim
Cardiff have stepped it up another gear at the start of the second half and force a corner but Fulham are able to clear with the minimum of fuss.
The ball is played into Kim and it falls for him perfectly but his attempt is blocked well by Hangeland.
Fulham are forced into a second early substitution, as Dejagah makes way for Giorgos Karagounis, whose first contribution is to deliver a ball in for Mitroglou, who wins a corner for his side before fellow sub Kacaniklic's mazy runs ends with a wayward effort when he had players either side of him.
WHAT. A. MISS. Somehow Jones contrives to head wide at the far post despite being left completely unmarked from Noone's teasing right-wing cross.
A lively start to the second half, as Mutch's effort zips wide from range before Holtby tests Marshall with a fierce drive from the edge of the area.
Fulahm make a substitution at the break, bringing on Alex Kacaniklic for Riise and we are back underway for the second half here, as Cardiff get the ball rolling once again.
HALF-TIME: Cardiff City 1-0 Fulham. The hosts have looked the most likely to score throughout, showing much more adventure and poise in the final third and have their reward just moments prior to the interval as Caulker hands them the lead. Noone has probed and been menacing but Stekelenburg only had two chances of note to save, both from strikers Campbell and Jones. Fulham need more from Mitroglou, who has been poor so far here.
45' + 1'
Goal Steven Caulker
GOAL! After a succession of corners, Cardiff take the lead right on the stroke of half-time as Steven Caulker prods home Noone's cross-cum-shot across the face of goal to send the Cardiff City Stadium into delirium.
SAVE: Stekelenburg is forced into a save, as he pushes away Jones' close-range effort with stunning reflexes to keep the scores level.
Holtby hands Cardiff a presentable opportunity by bringing down Kim. Noone floats the ball in but it is too high for anyone to get a flick on.
Holtby and Mitroglou trade chances by teeing each other up, with the German unable to finish before his ball into the area was headed well wide by the Greek striker.
Riise has an effort charged down before Cardiff launch a counter, courtesy of good hold-up play from Jones and a sweeping pass from Kim, but John's ball infield is heavy and possession is wasted in a threatening area.
Richardson refuses to take a chance and clears for a corner. Kim's subsequent delivery is disappointing though and Stekelenburg can claim above a host of bodies.
Kim's clever turn away from Riether results in the German hauling down the South Korean schemer just inside the Fulham half.
A spell of possession for the home side as the intensity of the last 10 minutes eases ever so slightly. You sense the first goal in this game could prove decisive.
Sidwell does well to track the run of Kim and gets back to deal with the danger on his side's goal before leading a breakaway that ultimately leads to nothing. Cardiff look the likelier to score at present.
Noone lets fly from range, only to see his effort go way over the crossbar before confusion reigns in the home side's defensive ranks as Riether's pull-back nearly finds Mitroglou but Ben Turner, with a few suspicions he may have handled, is able to intercept.
Mutch whips a superb delivery from the right flank in to Jones, but his header lacks the requisite power to find the back of the net, with Stekelenburg claiming rather easily in the end.
Dejagah wastes an opportunity to pull the trigger at the back post as he dallies over the ball and Cardiff can eventually clear, to their relief.
CLOSE: Craig Noone embarks on a mazy run, which sees him glide past desperate challenges from Sidwell and Brede Hangeland but, under pressure, he drags his shot wide of the near post.
Campbell looks to repay the favour handed to him by Jones earlier in the game by releasing him on goal but, again, the pass rolls straight through to the goalkeeper.
Mitroglou, who has been extremely quiet so far, offers a riposte to Campbell's strike but his long-range effort flies high and wide.
GREAT SAVE: Maarten Stekelenburg is forced to parry away the first real chance of the game, as he turns aside Campbell's curling effort from out on the left after working his way past Sascha Riether and Dejagah.
Both sides, naturally, are just sizing one another up at the moment and they looked far more scared of losing than inspired to win. A loss would be damaging but a win could make the difference at the end of the season.
Mutch's free-kick from out wide on the left - after Kim Bo-Kyung had been felled - is well over-hit and sails out of play for a goal-kick.
SIDE NETTING: Cardiff are afforded a huge let off as they go to sleep at a free-kick and Ashkan Dejagah peels off Declan John from Heitinga's pass but can only fire into the side of David Marshall's goal.
Kenwyne Jones looks to feed Fraizer Campbell but his pass is just too heavy and Fulham are able to clear their lines.
Riise is proving lively in the early stages of this game and almost latches onto another searching crossfield ball, this time from Johnny Heitinga which Fabio has to be alert to in order to deal with the danger.
Steve Sidwell's raking pass finds John Arne Riise out on the left and, after exchanging passes with Kieran Richardson, looks to get in behind the backline but the ball is deflected away.
Jordon Mutch returns to the Cardiff side this afternoon and it was his 30-yard stunner which secured the Welsh outfit a win at Craven Cottage earlier this season. Can he repeat the trick this afternoon?
We are underway at the Cardiff City Stadium as Fulham kick us off.
The two clubs have only 11 league wins between them all season. It is sure to be full of tension and nerves for both sides, but a rare three points for either might just give them a much-needed Premier League lifeline.
Fulham have brought up the rear in the top flight since the beginning of February but know a win today would be enough to take them above their hosts. It's only Magath's third match in charge, but the team has now lost 15 of their last 20 league games.
Today represents arguably Cardiff's best chance in quite some while of boosting that number as they come up against the division's most charitable defence, which has now conceded 62 goals.
The real concern for Solskjaer is his side's goal tally of 19, which is the joint-lowest in the top flight. Worryingly, they have failed to find the back of the net in 11 of their last 16 matches. They are crying out for a natural finisher in the mould of their manager in his prime.
That's one of six defeats in his eight league games in charge so far. If there is to be a recovery, though, the Bluebirds quite simply have to address their home form, where they have won just four times all season and must navigate through games against Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Stoke and Chelsea all still to come.
For Solskjaer and Cardiff, this is a first home game since the 4-0 defeat to Hull City, which prompted him to cancel the club's warm weather training plans in the Middle East.
The match also brings together two managers who were only appointed this calendar year. For both it is an inaugural managerial spell in the Premier League and they appear in desperate need of a lift.
Some critics have already written these two - the bottom two, of course - off already, but both sides will be aware that when facing a relegation rival at this stage, a win can act as a catalyst when forming a great escape bid.
Football fans, most of them anyway, hate the phrase 'six-pointer', but there is simply no hiding it from this one, a win for either side here this afternoon will have important implications on either side's battle against the drop.
There is also a debut for the Cottagers' record signing Kostas Mitroglou, who has recovered sufficiently from injury to make his first start. Partnering the Greek striker with Woodrow is a baptism of fire for the new duo, but Magath clearly has faith in them to make the difference in this crucial encounter.
The standout team news, at least from a Fulham perspective is the inclusion of Cauley Woodrow, who is handed a first-ever Premier League start by Magath, with Solskjaer altering his team's shape from a five-man defence to a more conventional 4-2-3-1.
Fulham: Stekelenburg; Riether, Heitinga, Hangeland, Riise; Dejagah, Sidwell, Holtby, Richardson; Mitroglou, Woodrow. Substitutes: Stockdale, Kvist, Kacaniklic, Karagounis, Zverotić, Burn, Bent.
Cardiff: Marshall; John, Caulker, Turner, Fabio; Medel, Kim, Mutch; Noone, Jones, Campbell. Substitutes: Lewis, Eikrem, Cala, Theophile-Catherine, Daehli, Zaha, Bellamy.
Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer makes three changes to his side after their 1-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur last week, while Fulham boss Felix Magath also tinkers with his lineup, drafting in four players.
Good afternoon and welcome to the LIVE commentary of Cardiff v Fulham. My name is Tom Marshall-Bailey and I will be bringing you all the updates during this relegation scrap at the Cardiff City Stadium. Team news coming right up.
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