Cardiff City 1-1 Stoke City: Whittingham penalty keeps hosts alive in relegation battle

The visitors took the lead from the penalty spot, only for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men to hit back with a spot-kick strike of their own in the second half
Peter Whittingham's second-half penalty ensured Cardiff City drew 1-1 with Stoke City in Wales on Saturday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men fell behind to a Marko Arnautovic spot-kick on the stroke of half-time, but Whittingham's strike levelled proceedings, before Cardiff saw Juan Cala's winner ruled out.

By Michael Keane

It was an intense match with both sides going for the win, but Stoke will undoubtedly leave Wales the happier of the two teams.

Howard Webb took centre stage as he awarded the two penalties that decided the game, and Cardiff fans will remain aggrieved that he pointed to the spot after Odemwingie went down under contact from Kim.

Both Marko Arnautovic and Peter Whittingham converted their spot kicks, but Cardiff will feel that they could have got more from this game. The home side were in dreamland when Juan Cala nodded in from close range in the second half, but the linesman rightly flagged the defender offside and both sides had to settle for a draw. It was a performance full of courage and commitment from the Bluebirds, but Stoke stood strong and will be breathing a sigh of relief as they make their way back to the Brittania.

Today’s draw leaves Cardiff two points off of safety and level on points with Fulham, while Stoke remain in 10th with Crystal Palace sitting one point behind the Potters.
Cala fired home following a melee in the Stoke box but was correctly ruled offside, much to Solskjaer's chagrin, though the result leaves the Bluebirds within touching distance of safety as the season draws to a close.

While Cardiff were able to leapfrog Fulham - beaten by Tottenham earlier in the day - on goal difference in the Premier League table, they missed the chance to move level on points with Norwich in 17th, who are in action on Sunday against Liverpool.

Despite plenty of industry, the hosts could only manage a draw at the Cardiff City Stadium as Mark Hughes' Stoke edged closer to securing a top-half finish for the first time in the Premier League.

In a first half of relatively few chances, Stoke took the lead through Arnautovic's penalty just before the interval.

The Austrian made no mistake with the spot-kick after Peter Odemwingie was adjudged to have been brought down in the area by Kim Bo-kyung, although television replays suggested that the decision was harsh.

Referee Howard Webb was at the centre of the action once more when he pointed to the spot again early in the second half - Steven N'Zonzi this time penalised for bringing down Fraizer Campbell - with Peter Whittingham levelling the scores.

Aside from a Cala effort that was ruled out for offside, Cardiff did not show enough going forward to merit a second goal and what would have been a vital three points in their survival battle.

Indeed, in the end they were fortunate to escape with a point after Jon Walters struck the crossbar for Stoke late on.

In an entertaining start, Mats Daehli's deflected early effort had the potential to cause Asmir Begovic in the Stoke goal problems, but it drifted just wide, and the Norwegian was involved again shortly afterwards.

He played Jordon Mutch in behind the Stoke backline with an incisive pass, only for the Cardiff youngster to shoot straight at Begovic.

Stoke  - who were without midfielder Charlie Adam as a result of his broken nose - gradually grew into the game but still remained somewhat sluggish as they struggled to muster forward momentum.

Hughes' side headed into the game having won just twice away in the Premier League all season but Cardiff struggled to find a way through their well-organised backline, with Mutch and Campbell limited to shots from distance prior to the half-hour mark.

At the other end, David Marshall was called upon to beat away N'Zonzi's effort following a quick break, before Stephen Ireland - who this week agreed a new three-year deal - and Arnautovic combined, the latter having dispossessed Kim, and crossed for Peter Crouch, but he failed to make clean contact.

However, the decisive moment of the half came in the closing moments as first Begovic tipped Whittingham's curling free-kick onto his left-hand post, before Stoke took the lead thanks to Kim's foul on Odemwingie.

The former Cardiff striker went down under a challenge from the South Korean and Webb pointed to the spot, despite replays suggesting that the decision may have been harsh, with Arnautovic slotting the resulting penalty down the middle.

Five minutes into the second half, Webb awarded a second penalty when N'Zonzi brought down Campbell - leading the line for Cardiff as Kenwyne Jones was left on the bench after his recent kidney problem.

Whittingham kept his cool to equalise from the spot, and the hosts thought they were ahead soon afterwards when Cala nodded the ball in from close range - only for it to be ruled out for offside.

That, though, was as close as Cardiff went to a winner as their wait for back-to-back league victories this term continued.

And Walters almost stole a late win for the visitors in injury time, but his curled effort from distance struck the crossbar.