Manchester United let it slip as Kim makes points for Cardiff
Wayne Rooney lucky not to be sent off for kick at Jordan Mutch
Cardiff City’s Kim Bo-Kyung heads home a last minute equaliser against Manchester United at Cardiff City Stadium yesterday. Photograph: Rebecca Naden/Reuters.
Cardiff City 2, Manchester Utd 2: Manchester United extended their unbeaten run to 10 matches in all competitions but it was Cardiff who came away happiest with the result. Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra had given United a 2-1 lead, but Cardiff were competitive throughout and had their reward when Kim Bo-kyung, on as substitute, headed home Peter Whittingham’s free-kick at close range in added-on time.
Rooney should probably have been sent off before he scored. In the seventh minute he kicked Jordon Mutch from behind and was fortunate indeed to escape with only a yellow card.
United were without their most commanding defender, Nemanja Vidic, and leading scorer Robin van Persie, both injured, and were never at their best.
For the Cardiff City manager, Malky Mackay, it may turn out to be a crucial point. Ridiculous though it sounds to those not familiar with the politics of the situation, those in a position to know were saying before the match that Mackay could not survive successive defeats here and at home to Arsenal on Saturday.
Mackay and the club’s owner, Vincent Tan, have not been on speaking terms since the Malaysian sacked Iain Moody, Mackay’s friend and head of recruitment, and replaced him with a novice who was painting the stadium at the start of the season.
The relationship between manager and owner has deteriorated to such an extent since promotion last season that informed sources insist it is now a question of when, rather than if, Mackay leaves. The Cardiff fans, to the tune of “Achy Breaky Heart”, sang: “Don’t sack Mackay, Malky Mackay, I just don’t think you understand. If you sack Mackay, Malky Mackay, you’ll effing have a riot on your hands.”
The situation seems even more absurd given the spirit Cardiff showed in fighting back to equalise twice against the Premier League champions in a contest that was big on atmosphere and aggression but short on cohesion and guile.
United used to be the ultimate challenge, the yardstick against which the rest were judged. The table indicates that is no longer the case, but for a club like Cardiff, on their first venture in the modern elite, the visit of the most celebrated team of them all is a red-letter day.
Talking of which, in the Welsh capital there was yet another match-day protest against the so-called “rebranding”, which made a nonsense of the nickname “Bluebirds”.
For a sizeable proportion of fans, it is anathema to see their players decked out in anything other than blue and for them Tan is responsible for the change. But then there are many who will forgive the owner almost anything, bearing in mind that 12 months ago to the day Cardiff’s opponents were Barnsley away.
No player in the league has made more defensive blocks than Steven Caulker and he was soon at it again as United assembled an assertive start, which was rewarded in the 15th minute by the opening goal. It was something of a gift from Caulker’s centre-back partner, Ben Turner, who passed the ball straight to Antonio Valencia. The winger’s cross was transferred by Javier Hernandez to Rooney, whose shot from 12 yards was helped in by Gary Medel’s last-ditch intervention. Conceding represented a major problem to Cardiff, who average less than a goal per game, but they levelled in the 33rd minute, when Mutch’s through-pass enabled Fraizer Campbell to evade Jonny Evans before shooting accurately into the far corner, from right to left.
The goal breathed confidence into Cardiff and they were giving as good as they got, but in the 45th minute they were rocked back on their heels again when Rooney’s corner from the left was headed home at the near post by Evra, whose marker, Medel, had gone awol.
Seeking an injection of pace, Cardiff introduced Craig Noone for his Premier League debut in place of Peter Odemwingie, and he made an instant impact: one run taking him past four opponents and another embarrassing Evra, who fouled him. United brought on Ryan Giggs in the 73rd minute and the Welsh international, back in the city of his birth, was greeted by a storm of partisan booing. Danny Welbeck, also on as substitute, threatened to widen the margin late on, but the last word belonged to Kim and Cardiff.