Cardiff City 3 Fulham 1 match report: Class act Steven Caulker gives Ole Gunnar Solskjaer survival hope

Caulker scores twice and along with an own-goal from Sascha Riether seals the win for Bluebirds

Cardiff City Stadium

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had challenged his Cardiff side to produce a performance fit for champions in this crunch relegation clash; they never threatened that level but were more than good enough to account for woeful Fulham.

Both sides may end up sliding through the trap door to the Championship at the season’s end, but at least Cardiff have reason for hope as captain Steven Caulker’s double, plus Sascha Riether’s own goal, gave Solskjaer just a second win from nine League games in charge.

The points had been up for grabs when Lewis Holtby turned in an equaliser to Caulker’s opener, but calamitous defending allowed the Bluebirds to score three in a game for the first time since they beat Manchester City back in August.

 

Not all of Cardiff’s transfer business, in August or January, has stood up to scrutiny, but the acquisition of Caulker from Tottenham for £9million has unquestionably been great business. The 22-year-old (below, celebrating with Craig Noone) was the rock at the heart of this victory, his calmness and composure belying his tender years.

His manager sees no reason why the England international should not be on the plane to Brazil after helping guide the Bluebirds to a win that moves them up to 18th place, below West Brom on goal difference.

Solskjaer said: “If he plays like this and chips in with the odd goal, he has to be in with a shout for the World Cup. He is a leader, very talented and he has a testing season, but he has come through it. He could have had an easy life at Spurs, but he chose Cardiff knowing it would be tough.”

On his side’s prospects of beating the drop he added: “We might not need 37 points to stay up, but that is still our target. It means a lot to everyone at the club. It’s not about one result it’s about a two month examination of their character. We have to stick together.”

Given the high stakes this was largely a nervy, scrappy affair with both sides mainly reduced to pot-shots from distance. It was dire viewing.

But Caulker eased the tension with Cardiff’s first League goal for 445 minutes right on half-time, diverting Craig Noone’s driven cross into the net from inside the six-yard box.

Fulham hit back through Holtby, after a better start to the second half, with the German turning in John Heitinga’s header from close range.

The visitors were level for just eight minutes. Jordon Mutch’s deep corner was headed in by Caulker, with Maarten Stekelenburg getting himself in a horrible muddle to make a hash of what should have been a regulation save.

Cardiff’s victory was wrapped up when the unfortunate Riether diverted the ball beyond Stekelenburg, after the keeper had blocked Mutch’s header.

Almost as alarming as Fulham’s plight – they are effectively five points from safety thanks to their awful goal difference – was the performance of £12m striker Konstantinos Mitroglou, who looks some way short of form and fitness on this showing.

The Fulham manager Felix Magath said: “He is not used to relegation fights, he played for the strongest team in Greece and it takes time to adjust. He is only used to scoring and winning but this is the Premier League and he will have to get used to it.”

Line-ups:

Cardiff City (4-1-3-2): Marshall; Fabio, Caulker, Turner (Théophile-Catherine, 90), John; Medel (Wolff Eikrem, 81), Mutch, Noone, Kim; Campbell (Daehli, 72), Jones.

Fulham (4-5-1): Stekelenburg; Riether, Heitinga, Hangeland, Richardson; Dejagah (Karagounis, 50), Sidwell, Holtby, Riise (Kacaniklic, 45), Woodrow (Bent, 76); Mitroglou.

Referee: Martin Atkinson.

Man of the match: Caulker (Cardiff)

Match rating: 6/10

News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
Sport
Premier League Live Saturday 23 August
sportAll the action from today's Premier League matches
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition