Cardiff City pulled off a major shock in their first top-flight home game for 51 years by stunning Manchester City 3-2 in the Premier League on Sunday.
Back among the English elite after winning the Championship last season, the Welsh club roared back from behind to condemn the 2011-2012 champions’ expensively assembled squad to a surprise defeat.
Fraizer Campbell was the match-winner, scoring twice in the final 11 minutes to give Malky Mackay’s men victory after Aron Gunnarsson had canceled out Edin Dzeko’s fine 52nd-minute opener for Manchester City.
“The atmosphere was fantastic before the game, and to go and give a performance like that against a team like that was amazing,” said Cardiff manager Mackay, whose side lost 2-0 at West Ham United the previous weekend. “You want to play against the best in the best league in the world. We are doing that and I am proud of everyone at the club. There have been lots of downs, but everyone here will have a smile on their face tonight.”
It was Cardiff’s first home game in the English top flight since 1962 and a capacity crowd at the Cardiff City Stadium made for a raucous atmosphere on a sunny summer’s afternoon in south Wales.
Manchester City dominated possession in the first half, but Cardiff worked tirelessly to keep them at bay and their only effort of note was a meek David Silva shot that goalkeeper David Marshall caught comfortably.
An injury to captain Vincent Kompany meant the visitors fielded Javi Garcia at centerback and the Spanish midfielder almost gifted Cardiff a goal with a weak header that forced Joe Hart to save from Campbell.
City made the breakthrough seven minutes into the second half when Sergio Aguero found strike partner Dzeko with a deft flick and the Bosnian powered a fine strike past Marshall from outside the area.
Cardiff’s fans refused to be silenced, though, and the home side drew level eight minutes later when Gunnarsson swept home from close range after Hart had denied Campbell.
Visiting manager Manuel Pellegrini introduced new signing Alvaro Negredo from the bench, but Campbell headed home from a Peter Whittingham corner in the 79th minute to put Cardiff ahead, before repeating the trick three minutes from time.
Negredo registered his first goal in England with a stoppage-time header, but Cardiff held on for a memorable win.
“It was a pity. I did not expect to lose,” Pellegrini said. “We didn’t play well, but they played with 10 players near their box, so it was very difficult to score. We must continue working. We have just started and not a lot of teams will win here. They are not an easy team to play.”
In Sunday’s other game, Tottenham Hotspur avoided the fate that befell City by overcoming Cardiff’s Welsh counterparts Swansea City 1-0 at White Hart Lane in London.
Tottenham were once again without the injured Gareth Bale, who is on the verge of a move to Real Madrid, but they had four new signings in their lineup in Paulinho, Etienne Capoue, Nacer Chadli and Roberto Soldado.
Swansea coach Michael Laudrup left record signing Wilfried Bony on the bench and the visitors were lucky not to concede a goal amid one-way traffic in the first half.
Paulinho threatened on a number of occasions and Swansea captain Ashley Williams headed the ball against his own post, while Spurs should have been given a penalty shortly before halftime.
Jonjo Shelvey was adjudged to have fouled Andros Townsend, but although the offense appeared to take place inside the Swansea penalty area, referee Neil Swarbrick awarded a free-kick.
However, when the same players came together in the second half, Swarbrick did point to the spot and Spain international striker Soldado kept his cool to convert his second Premier League penalty in two games.
It was Spurs’ second win of the campaign, following their 1-0 success at Crystal Palace, and it took them level with Chelsea and Liverpool at the top of the fledgling standings ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Manchester United yesterday.
“It’s a good start. Last season we had a different start to the season,” said Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas, whose faces archrivals Arsenal next weekend. “It gives us a little bit of confidence heading into a difficult game against Arsenal next week. I’m very pleased.”