When Craig Bellamy signed for his hometown club last August, he must have dreamed of such a moment. The 31-year-old, on a season-long loan to Cardiff City from Manchester City, settled this tense south Wales derby five minutes from time yesterday with what could well be the best goal of his career – giving Cardiff their first win in Swansea since 1997.
Bellamy produced a wonderful strike in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford last season but that cannot have held the same meaning to the Wales forward as this thunderous winner. Picking up the ball on the left flank after a neat lay-off by midfield starlet Aaron Ramsey, he let fly with an unstoppable 25-yard drive past the Swansea goalkeeper Dorus de Vries via the post to spark wild celebrations among the 1,800 travelling support.
Bellamy said: "Overall in the game I didn't deserve it. But no one will remember that performance, just the win – an invaluable three points."
Those points, which lifted Cardiff into third place in the Championship table, were no more than they deserved after edging a compelling battle. Jay Bothroyd wasted a glorious chance for the visitors from 12 yards inside 33 seconds before Darcy Blake cracked the same post as Bellamy after a mazy run on 63 minutes. But the goalscorer's Premier League class proved to be the difference.
The Cardiff manager, Dave Jones, said: "It was a goal fitting to win any big game or derby and I'm sure it will be one of the favourites in his collection. Craig is a Premiership player and he showed that.
"When he first came to the club, he thought he had to carry the team but he doesn't. He has good players around him. Every single player wearing a blue shirt was magnificent today. It was all about getting the three points for us. I'm proud of the players."
Swansea, looking to complete the first double between the sides in 82 years following their 1-0 win in Cardiff last November, were second best for long periods as the visitors' high-profile players rose to the occasion.
Manager Brendan Rodgers said: "It was a wonderful goal to win a fantastic match. Craig will admit he did not do much else, and Angel Rangel has done a great job on him over the two games. But money buys you quality and that is why Craig is paid all the money he gets. One individual piece of quality was the difference."
Swansea City (4-3-3): De Vries; Rangel, Tate, Williams, Richards; Britton (Dobbie, 87), Gower (Allen, 59), Pratley; Dyer, Moore (Beattie, 66), Sinclair. Substitutes not used Ma-Kalambay (gk), Van der Gun, Serran, Agustien. Booked Gower, Tate.
Cardiff City (4-4-2): Heaton; Quinn, Keinan, Hudson, McNaughton (Blake, h-t); Whittingham (Burke, 67), Olofinjana, Ramsey, Bellamy; Chopra (Emmanuel-Thomas, 75), Bothroyd. Substitutes not used Marshall (gk), Gyepes, McPhail, Parkin. Booked Bothroyd, Quinn.
Referee M Halsey (Hertfordshire)
Match rating 8/10
Man of the match Bellamy