Cardiff City 2 Wolves 0: Hasselbaink magic revives memories of Cardiff's historic past

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The Independent Online

For the first time in 81 years, Cardiff City are in the quarter-finals of the competition they, themselves, renamed. Before 1927, when the Welshmen took that famous silverware back across the border, the FA Cup was called the English Cup.

For obvious patriotic reasons they are rather proud of that piece of trivia down at Ninian Park and last night the memories of Fred Keenor and his men were being invoked with more mist in the eyes than ever in recent times. Yes, that magic was swirling in the South Wales air.

Saying that, the chances of such history coming to pass again this year remain remote, although with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in such form anything must be deemed possible. Wolves would certainly testify to the enduring ability of the old boy after he made the first goal and scored the second. All within the first 10 minutes.

In truth, the contest was as good as over at that stage, especially as Wolves were barely able to raise a whimper let alone a fight back. There may be just goal difference separating Cardiff (11th) from Wolves (12th) in the Championship but on this evidence the gulf between the sides is sizeable. Hasselbaink had an awful lot do with that because of his mesmeric opening.

Perhaps it is because he only ever managed a loser's medal with Chelsea, but he began the proceedings like a man with plenty to prove. "People think just because he has done so much in his career he would be tailing off when he came here," said his manager, Dave Jones. "But Jimmy still wants to win everything. In training, in head tennis, whatever. He can be a pain in the arse but when he plays like that... well."

It took just 85 seconds for Hasselbaink's Bluebirds to get off to their flyer. Glenn Loovens' challenge to dispossess Andy Keogh was rudimentary, the one-on-one finish from Peter Whittingham past the Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey essentially a formality, but what came in between was the simplest example of footballing beauty.

Hasselbaink has had his critics in the Welsh capital, but there was no denying the quality of his neat tuck inside to his team-mate. The veteran fell over as he was doing it, but then so almost did the two markers on him such was the subtlety of his movement and Whittingham was on his uninterrupted way.

Nine minutes later, the effect of Hasselbaink was even more startling. The 35-year-old began the move which led to the ball being whipped across the area by Paul Parry and Whittingham pulling it back for his goal-provider. Hasselbaink controlled it, perfected a giddying turn and then unleashed a left-foot curler that located the top corner. "That would have graced any pitch, anywhere," crooned Jones.

Ninian Park was rocking. Mick McCarthy was devastated by how his Wolves team began and how they failed to launch any sort of resurgence. "I've just told them in the dressing room that they were very poor," he barked. "I think 'hopeless' was the adjective I used."

He was not exaggerating, or being cruel. The nearest they came was when Kevin Kyle leapt on a Loovens error in the first skirmishes of the second half. Alas, he could not convert.

Cardiff should have extended their advantage. Parry came close twice within five minutes of the 50-minute mark, although by then they probably sensed the game was won. All that was left was for the spirit of 1927 to resurrect its glorious head and for the pragmatist Jones to bash it back below earth again.

"What Keenor and his team did back then was great, wonderful," he said after seeing his former club defeated. "But that's where it must remain – the past. Before the game I told the boys to go and create their own history. And we did."

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