'Mutch' more to come as Cardiff humble Fulham at Craven Cottage

Posted by Mike Morris

Cardiff PA PhotosCardiff celebrate their second goal against Fulham.

Cardiff City picked up a fully deserved first away win of the season (and a first away win at this level since 1961 -- coincidentally also at Fulham) thanks to Jordon Mutch's 92nd minute pile driver.

Cardiff should have had the game wrapped up long before injury time after a first half performance in which they totally outplayed their hosts. Steven Caulker scored with a header in the 12th minute, a goal was disallowed for an infringement on the keeper, there was a finger tip save from another Caulker header and several other efforts that were blocked or beaten away.

Giorgos Karagounis did test David Marshall in the first half with a decent strike, but until Martin Jol made a tactical change on 40 minutes Fulham were just terrible.

- Cardiff strike late at Fulham

Alex Kacaniklic was taken off and Bryan Ruiz brought on to try to counter the total Cardiff domination in midfield. Just a couple of minutes later Ruiz scored with a cracker from 25 yards out. It was out of the blue and while a brilliant goal, it was also completely against the run of play.

The second half was more even, but Fulham lacked any sort of quality. Their best chances came from a Dimitar Berbatov header that went wide and a dangerous cross from Kieran Richardson eluded everyone and rolled out of play.

Cardiff should have scored a second when Frazier Campbell got in front of his marker and fired over. Cardiff never gave Fulham chance to rest and while the clear cut chances were fewer there was constant danger from the Bluebirds.

Two minutes into added time Cardiff won a freekick in their own half. Marshall launched the ball towards the corner of the Fulham area. A poor effort to clear by Kieran Richardson saw the ball bounce in front of Mutch, he took control, touched the ball to his left and rifled an unstoppable drive past the despairing dive of David Stockdale from 25 yards.

The celebrations in the away end were the most incredible I've been part of since Ben Turner scored an equaliser at Wembley in the Carling Cup final. It was fully deserved and the win takes Cardiff above Manchester United in the Premier League table.

While from a Cardiff point of view it was a great day out to watch the club win away in the Premier League with a great performance, it was an eye opener to see just how poor Fulham were.

Dimitar Berbatov has goals and trophies from his time in the Premier League, but when he's not on top of his game he's a passenger. He offered nothing of any quality against Cardiff. You can carry one potential match-winner who might produce a moment of brilliance, but when other key players fail to compete you are in trouble.

What is the point of Darren Bent? Very disappointing from the England striker and at the back Brede Hangeland barely contested a ball into the box. As a big defender and skipper it was his job to take responsibility when Cardiff had set pieces but Hangeland went missing leaving Steve Sidwell to unsuccessfully attempt to stop Caulker getting a free header to score Cardiff's opener.

The slumped figure of Martin Jol, who spent most of the first half sat in his seat with his head in his hands, compared to the active and encouraging Malky Mackay, tells you all you need to know about how the first half was played out.

If Fulham's players were playing with little or no interest it was the complete opposite for Cardiff. Gary Medel was immense, winning challenge after challenge and then completing 99% of his passes to fellow Cardiff players.

There was hunger and desire from the Cardiff full-backs and Peter Odemwingie and Campbell up front were constantly on the move allowing no rest or control for the Fulham defence.

The past week saw Fulham owner Shahid Kahn remove the Michael Jackson statue erected by Mohamed Al Fayed. At the final whistle against Cardiff the Fulham fans were calling for another MJ to be removed, something the manager spent his press conference referring to. "I'll always be calm," said Jol. "But I hate it when people are getting worried and nervous, especially when they ask a manager to quit."

You might be calm Martin, but don't be surprised if the owner tells you to 'Beat It'


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