Cardiff City 0 Crystal Palace 3 match report: Jason Puncheon has Palace punching their way out of trouble
Joe Ledley struck in-between a Puncheon double that gives Palace crucial back-to-back victories
Cardiff City Stadium
Saturday 05 April 2014
A Jason Puncheon double helped Crystal Palace to an emphatic away victory as Cardiff continued their spiral towards relegation. Goals in each half from Puncheon and a strike from the former Cardiff midfielder, Joe Ledley, secured Palace’s first away win of 2014.
Tony Pulis’s side had scored just six goals on the road all season before their trip to Wales, but they were made to look like title contenders by a woeful Cardiff side. The win completed Palace’s first back-to-back victories since December, following last weekend’s shock result against Chelsea, and it virtually secured their top flight survival as they moved seven points from safety.
Pulis said: “We played well against Chelsea and I didn’t want to come here and have it be a case of after the lord mayor’s show. We had to follow it up with a result. I’m pleased the players have got the rewards for all their hard work.”
Puncheon had fired a couple of early warning shots which were easily dealt with by Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall. But when the home side continued to give Palace’s 27-year-old forward space between the lines he put the visitors ahead with his third attempt just after half hour.
Puncheon was allowed time to exchange passes with Ledley at the edge of Cardiff’s penalty area before switching the ball onto his left foot and rifling a drive into the bottom corner.
Cardiff never looked like forcing their way back into the match and the former Palace striker, Wilfried Zaha, was withdrawn after an hour to a smattering of boos from his own supporters.
Many of those fans were soon heading for the exit when Ledley grabbed the visitors’ second in the 71st minute.
Substitute Marouane Chamakh met Puncheon’s free kick but when his header was well saved by Marshall, Ledley bundled the ball in from close range.
The Wales international, who joined Cardiff at the age of nine and made 226 appearances for the club, refused to celebrate the goal against his boyhood club.
Puncheon’s second goal – when he broke forward two minutes from time and thundered a strike into the top corner from 25 yards – was the pick of Palace’s goals.
The few Cardiff fans remaining in the ground at the final whistle left Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in no doubt as to what they made of the performance. The Cardiff manager said: “We have to produce a miracle to stay up, but things will have to change.
“The only positive we can take is there are five games to go and we are six points behind.
“So if we produce a miracle, we are capable of getting out of it and staying in the Premier League. It has been a tough season for everyone at the club but I am still full of fight.”
Cardiff City (4-1-3-2): Marshall; Theophile-Catherine, Caulker, Turner, Taylor; Medel; Mutch, Daehli (Bellamy, 73), Zaha (Noone, 62); Campbell, Jones (Cowie, 78).
Crystal Palace (4-4-1-1): Speroni, Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward; Bolasie (Chamakh, 64), Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Puncheon; Ledley; Jerome (Murray, 83)
Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the match: Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace)
Match rating: 6/10
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