Thursday 22 August 2019

Zaha plays executioner role to condemn Cardiff to drop

Cardiff City 2-3 Crystal Palace

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock gestures to supporters on the pitch after the match. Photo: Getty
Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock gestures to supporters on the pitch after the match. Photo: Getty

Phil Blanche

Neil Warnock's Cardiff were relegated from the Premier League as Crystal Palace's away-day specialists won in the Welsh capital.

Cardiff needed to win their final two games to have a chance of overtaking Brighton, who enjoyed a four-point advantage and a far superior goal difference heading into the penultimate weekend.

But clinical Palace played the familiar role of executioners as Wilfried Zaha, Michy Batshuayi and Andros Townsend scored, with Cardiff replying through a Martin Kelly own goal and Bobby Reid's stoppage-time strike.

Cardiff, as has so often been the case this season, were not short of commitment and energy, just a lack of quality, which has been their undoing this season. Against opponents, who have incredibly won nine times on the road compared to four at Selhurst Park this season, they were brutally punished, with Zaha at his brilliant best.

Ironically Zaha, a former Bluebird loanee, was on the pitch the last time Cardiff were relegated from the top flight five years ago, alongside Aron Gunnarsson, who was playing his final home game for the club after eight years and over 280 games.

Cardiff owner Vincent Tan had made a rare visit to the Welsh capital and he saw his side come close to taking the lead within 40 seconds. Josh Murphy's drive from distance dipped devilishly to strike a post, but Cardiff's momentum was slowed when the influential Victor Camarasa hobbled off after 10 minutes with what appeared to be a dead leg.

Palace began to stroke the ball around with confidence and Zaha soon took Townsend's return pass and planted a low shot into the bottom corner past goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.

Reid's effort was a beauty at the death but Cardiff were down, as Palace added them to Hull, Stoke and Huddersfield as sides they have relegated in recent seasons.

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