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Solskjaer admits Cardiff need a miracle

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Cardiff City's Fraizer Campbell (L) is challenged by  Crystal Palace's Adrian Mariappa

Cardiff City's Fraizer Campbell (L) is challenged by Crystal Palace's Adrian Mariappa

Crystal Palace's Jason Puncheon celebrates after scoring his team's third goal

Crystal Palace's Jason Puncheon celebrates after scoring his team's third goal

Cardiff City's owner Vincent Tan

Cardiff City's owner Vincent Tan

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Cardiff City's Fraizer Campbell (L) is challenged by Crystal Palace's Adrian Mariappa

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Cardiff City need the proverbial sporting miracle to retain their Premier League status.

Not so Crystal Palace, whose destiny is now firmly in their own hands thanks to two goals from Jason Puncheon and another from former Cardiff midfielder Joe Ledley. Palace manager Pulis, born a dozen miles down the road in Newport, grew up on the terraces of Ninian Park.

Unfortunately, as he pointed out after yesterday's consummate victory, football provides no room for sentiment. Although he admits to still having a soft spot for his boyhood club, his only concern is keeping Palace in the top flight. On the evidence of this highly competent performance, he will achieve that.

Sadly, Cardiff's shallow, gutless performance means last season's Championship winners are destined for the drop. Even manager Solskjaer accepts that relegation is the inevitable consequence of the club's miserable first season in the top flight for more than 50 years.

"We still have something to fight for, but we might need to produce a miracle," Solskjaer said.

Pulis preferred to speak in glowing terms of his side's hugely impressive display. "We played really well against Chelsea last Saturday and we didn't want to come here after the Lord Mayor's Show. It is very rewarding," he said.

In typical Pulis fashion, Palace made sure that Cardiff's early flourish would be met by similar guts and gusto.

They created a feeling of frustration among the home fans with their delaying tactics and made sure that when the ball came their way, they kept it. In contrast, Cardiff were hurried and lacking in accuracy. Matts Moller Daehli apart, they were wholly predictable. The courage that Solskjaer had demanded in recent weeks was conspicuous by its absence.

Quite why the manager had been so concerned about the supposed unsettling midweek reports of Wilfried Zaha returning to Crystal Palace next season is anyone's guess. The Manchester United loanee was a virtual spectator for much of the game, with Solskjaer time and again encouraging him to get involved. When he was finally replaced, in the second half, he was booed.

Cardiff's only real opportunity before half-time saw Fraizer Campbell force Julian Speroni into a smart save. However, once Puncheon arrived to converted Ledley's slide-rule pass there was a general feeling of inevitability about the day.

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Ledley reacted quickly to score a second, 19 minutes from time, after David Marshall somehow kept out a smart header from Marouane Chamakh. Three minutes from the end, and with many of the home fans having already departed, Puncheon rubbed salt into the wound when he beat Marshall with a terrific strike from 20 yards.

Solskjaer added: "This was very disappointing because we built it up as big game and I am disappointed for the fans that we ended up with a result and performance like this. If you produce a miracle you are capable of getting out of it. It has been a tough season for everyone involved in the club and it has taken its toll."

Telegraph


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