Saturday 7 December 2019

Daehli delight for Ole

Mats Daehli has impressed boss Ole Gunnar Solksjaer
Mats Daehli has impressed boss Ole Gunnar Solksjaer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hailed the impact of his fellow Norwegian Mats Daehli as Cardiff continue their fight for Barclays Premier League survival.

Daehli proved the Welsh club's most creative player in a 1-1 draw against Stoke that ensured Cardiff retained a fighting chance of avoiding relegation.

"He is proving time and time again that he is worth a place in the team," Solskjaer said of the 19-year-old, who joined Cardiff during the January transfer window this season.

"He gets you on the edge of your seat, he does things, the difficult things at times, and he is fantastic at just playing simple when that is required.

"He's a good footballer, and I think he has done fantastic since he has come here."

For all Daehli's excellence, though, Cardiff were once again left indebted to goalkeeper David Marshall as their saviour.

Scotland international Marshall, viewed by many pundits as one of the best keepers in English football's top flight this season, came to Cardiff's rescue with a brilliant late point-blank save to deny Stoke substitute Oussama Assaidi a probable winner.

"The first 75-80 minutes I thought we deserved more than a draw," Solskjaer added.

"Towards the end, though, you might say we didn't deserve anything. We have a top, top goalkeeper and he saved a point for us. We thank him again.

"He has just signed a (new) contract, and we are going to make sure he doesn't have the option of going down. We have three games to rescue the season."

Cardiff have three games left in the quest to avoid a quickfire Championship return - away to Sunderland and Newcastle, then at home against Chelsea.

"Two wins would be enough, but you never know in this league," Solskjaer said. "You never know what the outcome is going to be in any of the games.

"It is not a miracle needed, but it is two very good performances needed in the next two games to give us a chance in the last game against Chelsea."

Craig Bellamy, meanwhile, could be back in contention for the Sunderland encounter next weekend. He will return to training on Monday after being sidelined because of a virus.

Peter Whittingham's 50th-minute spot-kick cancelled out a Marko Arnautovic strike for Stoke - the first penalty Cardiff have conceded this season - that was converted during the dying seconds of an opening 45 minutes Cardiff shaded with regards to possession and territory.

Solskjaer disputed the decision by referee Howard Webb, who punished Kim for his challenge on Stoke's former Cardiff player Peter Odemwingie. Cardiff also saw a later Juan Cala effort ruled out for offside.

"I felt what I felt at the time, that it was not a penalty, but I accept that Howard has got to make a decision there and then," Solskjaer added.

"For us, it galvanised everyone in the dressing room. We felt hard done by.

"I didn't have to say a lot at half-time, apart from maybe trying to control the emotions, because that is important when you get decisions like that against you. You can't make him change his mind.

"The way we came out second-half and put them under pressure, got the goal, got a disallowed goal, got the crowd going - they were fantastic again - and it was just what we wanted."

While Cardiff continue scrapping for points, Stoke can reflect on just one defeat in their last eight games, a run that has helped secure mid-table comfort.

"The neutrals in the ground would think they were a couple of soft penalties," Stoke boss Mark Hughes said.

"I am not going to surprise you by saying I thought ours was a valid penalty and rightly given.

"My view on Cardiff's penalty is that it was very soft and the lad has looked for a movement from Steve N'zonzi that would allow him to go down.

"In the second half we were in the ascendancy and Assaidi, if he had converted that chance it would have won the game for us. But we will take the point."

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