Shot-shy Bluebirds beaten at Villa Park

Posted by Mike Morris

Libor Kozak goal Aston Villa vs Cardiff GettyImagesLibor Kozak made sure of the points for Aston Villa with the second goal against Cardiff.

It took a moment of brilliance from Leandro Bacuna to set Aston Villa on their way a 2-0 over Cardiff City at Villa Park. The defeat left 3,000 travelling fans frustrated at the lack of attacking threat against a Villa team that started the day below the Bluebirds in the table.

Bacuna's pinpoint free kick in the 76th minute wrong footed David Marshall in the Cardiff goal and gave Villa the confidence they needed to go on and score a second goal to secure a comfortable win.

Villa had failed to score in their last four games and they had failed to keep a clean sheet at home in the Premier League for nearly a year. With the home crowd getting agitated and Cardiff managing to see plenty of the ball during the first half it was set up for the Bluebirds to heap more woe on their hosts.

- Hughes: Bacuna's brilliance

Unfortunately, Cardiff were unable to impose themselves in the final third and when Libor Kozak headed Villa's second in the 82nd minute the toothless Bluebirds had blown their chance at picking up vital away points.

Cardiff have the ability to compete in the Premier League and previous results have shown they can win games. It becomes frustrating though to see the team struggle up front. Peter Odemwingie was the lone striker at Villa Park and the one time he looked to have a run at the Villa defence he was fouled and the free kick was wasted.

Most of Cardiff's threat comes from set pieces. Two goals against Man City, a goal against Fulham and the winner against Swansea all came from Cardiff corners. At Villa Park Cardiff had a couple of free kicks around the box but they failed to trouble Brad Guzan. The closest the Bluebirds came to a goal was a header by Kozak, who nearly placed the ball into his own net in the first half.

Malky Mackay changed things early in the second half and brought on Fraizer Campbell for Odemwingie. The change initially livened up Cardiff, and Campbell's running caused Villa problems but ultimately the delivery from midfield was lacking and Campbell, like Odemwingie before him was left isolated and struggling to make an impact.

Villa boss Paul Lambert made a substitution on 74 minutes that turned the game. Karim El Ahmadi was taken off and right-back Matt Lowton came on. Lambert pushed Bacuna forward to accommodate Lowton and within minutes Bacuna was running through the Cardiff midfield. For once Gary Medel was chasing back and the only way to stop Bacuna was to foul him. The shirt pull from Medel was obvious and the easiest yellow card referee Martin Atkinson will ever have to issue.

At the time it looked as though Medel had taken one for the team but Bacuna got up, and took the free kick himself. With Marshall satisfied he had placed his wall correctly Bacuna stepped up and curled the free kick over the wall and past a static goalkeeper. Marshall anticipated a shot to his top right corner, the superb strike went to Marshall's left and Villa had scored for the first time in over 450 minutes.

Bacuna is proving a real threat from set pieces with this stunning strike against Cardiff adding to another fantastic free kick he scored when Villa beat Man City earlier in the season.

There was only going to be one winner at this stage. Villa came forward again and doubled their lead less than 10 minutes later. Kozak neatly headed in Lowton's headed cross as Villa piled pressure into the Cardiff box.

A week after the high of the derby day victory over Swansea the Cardiff fans were left feeling blue after the disappointing result at Villa Park. The number of efforts on goal is quite concerning, only two on target against a Villa side who had not kept a clean sheet at home since December 2012 in The Premier League.

Cardiff's aim this season was always going to be Premier League survival. With 12 points from 11 games so far Cardiff are giving themselves a fighting chance to keep their place in the top division. The cause would have been helped considerably if Cardiff had seized the initiative at Villa Park instead of showing a struggling side too much respect.

Next up are back to back home games against Manchester United and Arsenal. It's not going to get any easier.


Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.