Cardiff City claimed a crucial victory in their bid for survival as they defeated West Ham United 2-0 at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The Bluebirds had lost their last three league games, and their home fans were crying out for a performance. Junior Hoilett opened the scoring when he nipped in at the near post to finish from Josh Murphy’s cross. Victor Camarasa doubled the lead in the second half with a scrappy goal, the Spaniard pouncing on Murphy’s header to scramble the ball over the line.
West Ham failed to stage a comeback, and in the end, Cardiff were at relative ease. The Hammers’ bad away run continued, but Neil Warnock’s side picked up an important win in their bid for survival.
Hoilett excellent for Cardiff on return
Hoilett did not feature in last week’s 2-0 defeat at Wolves, and Cardiff’s attack struggled greatly in that match. Warnock deployed Hoilett in the left winger spot against West Ham, and he repaid that decision handsomely.
His early goal was a result of some great movement, and the finish was impeccable from close range. That strike lifted his teammates and fans alike, and that momentum never waned for Cardiff. He was involved in the second goal as well, as his cross from the left side led to Camarasa’s goal.
Hoilett made three dribbles and created two chances, and his constant running troubled the West Ham backline. He combined well with Murphy and Oumar Niasse, and Warnock should opt to stick to this attacking lineup in the upcoming games. Scoring goals have been a real problem for this side, but that was not apparent against West Ham.
West Ham had possession, but Cardiff got the goals
It was another one of those games where possession ceases to be nothing more than a number. West Ham had 71% of the ball in the game, but they failed to convert that into something meaningful.
They also had the higher passing accuracy and completed 565 passes to Cardiff’s 226. But surprisingly, Cardiff had the better chances, and they should have won by a more significant margin if not for Lukasz Fabianski.
Cardiff had 16 shots to West Ham’s nine, and they created 10 chances while West Ham managed six. The Hammers only had two efforts on target, one of which one was a 45-yard effort from Mark Noble. Cardiff executed their gameplan perfectly, and West Ham were left looking toothless as a result.
Win even more important for Cardiff due to results elsewhere
Cardiff’s direct rivals in the relegation battle are Southampton, who were two points ahead of them in the table. Both teams are avoiding the 18th place, as the fate of Fulham and Huddersfield is all but confirmed.
Southampton won their game against Tottenham Hotspur to the surprise of many. Brighton also won a tough game away at Crystal Palace. If Cardiff were unable to get the three points, they could have been 5 points adrift.
Burnley’s loss against Liverpool has drawn them into the battle as well. They are also just two points above Cardiff as it stands. As Warnock said after the match, Cardiff “brought a few more back into the pack”.
There’s still a long way to go for Cardiff
The win over West Ham was an important one, and Warnock acknowledged it as much. “It’s probably the biggest win of the season, and there were a lot of positives – that was our eighth clean sheet,” he said after the game.
“I think we’re capable of getting a few more results between now and the end of the season, he also said. The problem is that out of the eight fixtures left, four are Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Liverpool. The matches for the likes of Southampton and Burnley are relatively easy, which spells danger for Cardiff.
Cardiff have failed to pick up points against the top sides, and they will have to amend that to clinch survival. The next two months are bound to be interesting ones at the bottom of the table as well.
Pellegrini worried about poor away form
West Ham are safe from the relegation battle, but their away form has been a problem. They have picked just four wins on the road, in contrast with seven at the London Stadium.
They have claimed just one point from their last six Premier League away games, which was a 1-1 draw at Palace. “More than a disappointing result, it was a disappointing performance. We must review what we are doing when we are playing away,” said manager Manuel Pellegrini after the game.
In four [of the last five] away games we didn’t score one goal, and we conceded too many,” he also said. The numbers certainly don’t lie, Manuel.