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12 April 2014
• St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton, Hampshire
Referee: J. Moss
• Attendance: 30526
Juan Cala 65'
90' + 3'
The Cardiff fans have their fingernails firmly attached to the skin of their teeth. Can the Bluebirds record a famous away victory, or will it be heartbreak?
90' + 2'
Four minutes of injury time have been added on.
ZAHAAAAA!!! It's one extreme to another at the moment, as Zaha beats Fonte for pace from a clearance, brings the ball down, evades Lovren and applies the finish. However, Gazzaniga blocks the winger's effort with his shins!
WHAT A CHANCE!!!! Lambert will be kicking himself after that! A deep cross from Clyde is flicked onto the striker, yet despite being unmarked at the far post, he fails to throw a meaningful leg at the ball!
Another smart substitution sees Daehli replaced by Bellamy. The Norwegian may have put in a decent shift and took his time in leaving the pitch, but the Welshman's know-how at this level will be much appreciated by the rest of his team-mates.
Cardiff are being faced with ever-mounting pressure here, as expected, but they refuse to bow down to Southampton's kitchen sink. Another cross is ploughed into their area, and - as cool as you like - Cala heads the ball back to Marshall.
CLYDE!!!! Shaw fizzes the ball into the Cardiff box, and it drops to the right-back who blasts a powerful, low shot towards the bottom-right corner, but Marshall pulls off a wonderful stop to tip the effort away for a corner!
Southampton look to counter McNaughton's entrance to proceedings by bringing on Guly. Cork is the man sacrificed by Mauricio Pochettino and is understandably disappointed with his performance this afternoon - judging by his facial expression.
Fabio Da Silva
It's a case of shutting up shop for Cardiff now, as Fabio trudges off for the disciplined McNaughton, who will look to call upon his experience in the final stages.
The hosts' support are making themselves heard, and it almost inspires a goal! Schneiderlin lobs the ball over the last line of the Cardiff defence to play in Gallagher, who evades Cala, but Marshall somehow stops the teenager's attempt with his legs!
Cork hesitates on the edge of the Cardiff box for too long, and Zaha nicks the ball off his fellow Englishman before surging into the Southampton half and eventually winning his side a welcome throw-in.
LALLANA!!!! A ball is delivered to the far post, but it's headed down for the midfielder to swipe at on the half-volley. Marshall is equal to the Saints playmaker's effort, however.
Southampton are beginning to run out of steam here, as they desperately search for an equaliser. Cardiff, meanwhile, look resilient at the back and seem confident they can withstand the pressure that they will likely face in at least the next 18 minutes.
Whittingham's cross travels beyond the back post, but it's knocked down for Theophile-Catherine, who can't quite get the shot off.
If the status quo is maintained for another 24 minutes, Cardiff move to 29 points - just three adrift of Norwich! The Bluebirds tails are up as we speak, as they prepare to take a corner.
GOOOOOOOOOOOOOALLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!! A free kick is curled into the box, which is headed away by a Saints jersey, but Cala is alert on the outskirts of the area, and he takes on his man before rifling home an unstoppable finish into the back of the net!!!
Cork chips a tantalising lobbed ball for Ramirez to follow through, but the ex-Bologna ace loses his footing at a crucial time, and a goal kick is awarded.
It seems Solskjaer was reading my commentary with the introduction of Zaha for Medel! The match is really starting to stretch now.
MUTCH!!!! The midfielder unleashes a powerful strike from around 20 yards out, and Gazzaniga is motionless as it flies just above his net!
Ramirez wraps his foot around the corner, which he drives into the middle of the Cardiff box, but Marshall is there to claim the ball in convincing fashion.
Fabio executes a fine sliding tackle to take the ball from under Davis' grasp. Meanwhile, Mutch wins Cardiff a free kick following an excessive challenge from Cork.
Mutch thinks he has escaped the last line of defence, as he finds himself with the ball deep on the right-hand side, but Cork is there in a flash to dispossess his countryman and launch a Saints attack!
Surprisingly, Solskjaer is not ordering any of his subs to warm up down the touchlines. The Cardiff boss has become renowned for his tendency to make multiple changes early on after the restart. A Zaha or Bellamy would definitely add spice to proceedings.
Southampton are freely pinging the ball about in the Cardiff half, with a minimum amount of pressure being exerted by the Bluebirds. Playing on the break is a dangerous tactic against such fit opponents, but as long as they can keep the score goalless, they will surely grow in the latter stages of the match.
Lallana sprays the ball out wide to Shaw, but the left-back's first touch is a tad strong. His cross suffers as a result of hooking the ball in order to avoid a goal kick.
Cardiff are experiencing real difficulty in linking their midfield with attack, despite the likes of Kim and Daehli capable of performing as offensive midfielders. At the moment, they're playing too deep on the wings in a 4-5-1, with Campbell isolated up top.
Ramirez finds himself in a pocket of space, central to goal, but he can't find the defence-splitting pass needed to separate the Cardiff defence into two.
The match is back under way.
The players are back out onto the pitch for the second half!
Southampton have been on the front foot by a considerable margin, but they are yet to turn their dominance into goals. They have breached Cardiff on multiple occasions, thanks to the finesse of their attack rather than athleticism, but their shooting needs to improve if they are to emerge with all three points.
HALF TIME: Southampton 0-0 Cardiff.
There will be one minute of time added on in this first half.
Ramirez swirls a flighted cross into the box from the left, and Lambert's glancing header whistles just wide of Marshall's goal.
TWO IN A ROW!!! The Saints must be cursing their inability to break the deadlock so far, as Cork and Ramirez both see snapshots parried away by Marshall.
CARDIFF COME CLOSE!!! A corner is whipped into the heart of the Southampton box, and Gazzaniga is there to punch the ball away in the nick of time! The Argentine goalkeeper is then at it again moments later, before Southampton are eventually allowed to resume there natural game.
Shaw embarks on a strong, darting run down the left and Mutch does just enough to force through a corner. There are claims that the former Birmingham midfielder was a little too aggressive in his tug on the stopper, although they are quickly waved away by the referee.
Cardiff have gone nine matches without a clean sheet on their travels but shown very little fight here. Their Premier League status is hanging by a thread, so they must up the ante or resign themselves to a likely relegation.
Chambers squares the ball to Shaw on the opposing flank, and the left-back drills a cross into the feet of Lambert, who manages to get a shot off and win his side a corner from Marshall's instinctive stop.
Whenever Cardiff enjoy a rare sight of the ball, they are either forced back into their own half or face the prospect of being picked off the park by Southampton. The Saints appear several seconds and yards quicker than the visitors in every facet so far.
Lambert drops deep to support his colleagues, who are in the process of flooding forward, but his dinked through ball is too strong and a goal kick is given to Cardiff.
Southampton are awarded a free kick in a wonderful position, just left to the centre of goal from around 20 yards out, and Lambert forces Marshall into pushing the ball away for a corner!
RAMIREZ HITS THE BAR!!!! The Uruguayan collects the ball in the box after some more impressive interchanges between the Southampton midfielders, and he swings his boot to curl an effort onto the stanchion, with Marshall beaten!
Kim approaches the box with a series of small touches, before playing in Daehli to his left, and the Norwegian fabulously bypasses Chambers with a smart turn. His cross is flicked on by Mutch, but Campbell can't make enough meaningful contact!
The last two minutes have been a bit a scramble, as both teams engage in a midfield battle, but Cardiff are on the break as we speak...
LAMBERT!!!! Shaw is in possession for the first time in several minutes, and he uses the opportunity wisely by crossing the ball directly onto the head of the former Rochdale man, but his attempt is just wide of the target.
Ramirez uses his vision deftly to clip a through pass for an onrushing Schneiderlin, who looks to dart into the box, but Marshall is quick off his toes to collect the ball.
Lambert receives a pass from Cork and turns on a sixpence, but the resulting shot soars into the orbit... or the stand behind Marshall's net for that matter! The striker had options either side of him and probably should have used any one of them.
Lallana cuts inside from the right and evades a Medel tackle, before smashing an attempt straight at Marshall, who reads the strike confidently.
... but in a split-second, it turns into a Saints counterattack, which Fabio does just enough to break down for a throw. It was a four-versus-two situation for a moment!
Lovren can't believe his luck - or lack of, rather - today, as the linesman pulls him up for an adjudged push on Campbell, despite originally seeming hesistant to raise his flag on the Croat.
TIKI-TAKA-ESQUE FROM THE HOSTS!!! The triumvirate of Lallana, Ramirez and Davis are on top form this afternoon, as they all combine to play in the former, but his cut-back is too deep for Lambert to connect with.
Southampton are starting to take the game to Cardiff now, as Lallana teases the opposition defence with some neat footwork, before pulling the trigger on the edge of the box, but his effort is blocked for a throw.
Lovren is forced to make another robust challenge, this time on Mutch over on the right flank, but he concedes another free kick, albeit with a hint of misfortune. The set-piece is whipped into the box, and it's well cleared this time around by the Saints rearguard.
THAT WAS UNCOMFORTABLE! Cardiff win another free kick, which Mutch flights into the Southampton area and is headed away by Lambert. However, it's not properly cleared as Whittingham has another bite of the cherry, before Lovren unconvincingly puts the ball out for a throw.
Shaw is unopposed on the left yet again, as he bends another excessively-high cross into the box. Marshall clutches the ball gratefully.
Mutch is upended to the right of the centre-circle and Cardiff are awarded a free kick, which they proceed to waste.
This is Ramirez's first start since early January, and he is certainly looking lively in these opening exchanges. It will be interesting to see how long he can sustain this intensity for this afternoon.
Cork and Ramirez attempt a one-two near the Cardiff D, but it's well read and the move results in a Cardiff free kick.
Shaw charges towards the byline, down the left-hand side, and chips a cross deep into the box, but it goes beyond the Southampton attackers and danger is quickly averted by the visitors.
FULL TIME: Southampton 0-1 Cardiff - that's a huge, huge victory for the visitors, who now move within three points of Premier League safety! Solskjaer's game plan worked to perfection, as his side expertly countered the Saints' possession game, and they will look to their remaining four games with optimism! I'm Livio Caferoglu, and it's goodbye from me.
The match is under way!
With the Hillsborough disaster 25 years ago this weekend, today's matches in the Premier League are subject to a seven-minute delay to commemorate the 96 who sadly died during the tragedy.
The players begin steaming out onto the pitch... kick-off is fast approaching!
England assistant boss Ray Lewington is also in the stands for today's encounter. There are plenty of potential Three Lions on display, with the likes of Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Jordon Mutch and Fraizer Campbell all desperate to impress the watchful eye of Roy Hodgson's trusty sidekick.
Southampton used their pre-match warm-up to show their affection for the sidelined Rodriguez, as every player in red and white donned the striker's No. 9 on the back of their training jerseys.
Cardiff, on the other hand, are six points adrift and seem to be in need of a miracle if they are to stay up at the first time of asking. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has won just four of his 16 games in charge of the Bluebirds, with three defeats in his last four and no victories since the 3-1 success over Fulham on March 8.
After managing to overcome a second bout of poor results, Southampton have won three of their last five matches to consolidate a comfortable mid-table spot in the Premier League table. They may be nine points behind Manchester United, who lie in seventh place, but the Saints are on course for their highest top-flight finish since 2002.
Meanwhile, Jay Rodriguez's season-ending ligament injury, incurred against Manchester City in the previous round of fixtures, sees Gaston Ramirez step into his boots in the Southampton attack.
Cardiff make four changes from the side that were thumped 3-0 by Crystal Palace last week, with Ben Turner, Andrew Taylor, Wilfried Zaha and Kenwyne Jones all being replaced by Cala, Fabio, Peter Whittingham and Kim Bo-Kyung.
CARDIFF: Marshall; Cala, Caulker, Theophile-Catherine, Fabio; Mutch, Medel; Kim, Daehli, Whittingham; Campbell. SUBS: Lewis, Turner, Eikrem, Gunnarsson, McNaughton, Zaha, Bellamy.
SOUTHAMPTON: Gazzaniga; Chambers, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw; Cork, Schneiderlin; Davis, Ramirez, Lallana; Lambert. SUBS: Cropper, Clyne, Wanyama, Ward-Prowse, Guly, Hooiveld, Gallagher.
Hello and welcome to today's Premier League clash at St Mary's between Southampton and Cardiff! I'm Livio Caferoglu, your designated scribe for all the action as it happens on the South Coast. Team news is on its way, so don't move a muscle!
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