[Premier League] Cardiff City 2-2 Manchester United
Cardiff: Frazier Campbell (33), Kim Bo Kyung (90)
ManUtd: Wayne Rooney (15), Patrice Evra (45)
A last-minute equaliser from substitute Kim Bo-Kyung snatched a draw for Cardiff City and dealt United a frustrating setback in the Barclays Premier League title race
First half goals from Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra came either side of Fraizer Campbell's equaliser for the hosts, who tested the champions throughout but rarely threatened goalkeeper David De Gea prior to Kim's late leveller.
United might still have pinched the points in injury-time when Rooney was played in on goal, but the striker scuffed his attempted pass to substitute Danny Welbeck and City stopper David Marshall pounced on the loose ball.
Shorn of several key players through injury, including top scorer Robin van Persie, manager David Moyes made five changes to the side which overcame Arsenal prior to the recent international hiatus, and that sizeable reshuffle contributed to a disjointed first half display from the champions.
Rooney provided the majority of the game's talking points, kicking out at Jordon Mutch early on after the City midfielder had blocked the striker's forward surge. Referee Neil Swarbrick brandished a yellow card, to Cardiff's ire, and the home contingent's sense of injustice was heightened when Rooney soon opened the scoring.
Antonio Valencia and Chicharito combined to tee up United's no.10, who took his time before unleashing a near-post effort which nicked Gary Medel and looped over the stranded David Marshall. Though the City goalkeeper was soon required to fend away a Marouane Fellaini header, it was the hosts who took the initiative for the remainder of the half.
Mutch was heavily involved as Campbell deservedly levelled the scores, releasing the former United striker with a fine through-ball which teed up a simple finish past the exposed De Gea. The Spaniard's goal repeatedly came under threat in the remainder of the half, with Campbell, Don Cowie and Peter Whittingham all firing off target, only for United to snatch the lead before the break when Evra powered Rooney's left-wing corner past Marshall.
The Scottish stopper was impressively equal to headed efforts from Fellaini and Chris Smalling in the opening minutes of the second half, but Cardiff soon rallied to disrupt the visitors' flow and almost levelled when Campbell raced onto Tom Cleverley's errant pass, only to chip a delicate effort against De Gea's crossbar.
Scares were few and far between for the champions, and the victory might have been assured if Marshall hadn't smartly saved at the feet of substitute Welbeck, who subsequently half-volleyed just over the bar after a classy one-two with Rooney.
Those misses ultimately proved costly as City substitute Kim headed home Peter Whittingham's left-wing free-kick in the final minute to send the home fans wild with delight. Their celebrations might have been cut short twice in stoppage time, but Rooney's scuffed pass to Welbeck and Smalling's subsequent wayward shot ensured a share of the spoils and a frustrating end to a battling afternoon for the Reds.
The Match An exercise in frustration for United, who looked to have battled to victory after twice forging ahead, only to let the points slip at the last. Cardiff perhaps deserved a point for their contribution to an attritional game, but United will rue chances missed when leading 2-1, and then immediately after Kim's leveller. David Moyes will view the result as two points dropped, especially coming immediately after victory over league leaders Arsenal earlier this month.
Goals Ben Turner's lax pass out of defence was emphatically punished in the 15th minute, as Antonio Valencia seized on the loose ball, advanced and picked out Chicharito inside the Cardiff area. The Mexican neatly helped it on to Rooney, who brought the ball under control and unleashed a near-post effort which nicked Gary Medel's studs, bouncing down and then up over the diving David Marshall. Rooney then turned provider in the final minute of the first half, whipping in a marvellous corner which Evra powered past David Marshall.
Star men Rooney once again turned in an all-action display, embellishing his goal with a string of dangerous deliveries from set-pieces, including the assist for United's second goal by Evra, who also turned in another impressive outing.
Sub-plot A pair of decisions from referee Neil Swarbrick provoked post-match debate, having booked Rooney for his kick at Jordon Mutch before offering Gary Medel nothing more than a stern word for aiming a slap at Marouane Fellaini moments before Kim's equaliser.
Move of the match Though the move was started by Turner's errant pass and finished by a deflection, United's opening goal was neatly worked. Antonio Valencia's cross to Chicharito was pinpoint, but the Mexican's flick to tee up Rooney's finish was sublime.
Opposition Cardiff plugged away all afternoon, enjoying the greater chances in the first period and shutting down United's creative advances in an evenly-poised second period. Though they were ultimately indebted to wasteful finishing from the Reds in the late stages, Malky Mackay's side showed impressive resolve to pinch a point and extend their solid return to the top flight.
In the stands Predictably, a fervent atmosphere was generated by Cardiff's biggest gate of the season, which included 2,800 travelling Reds. The combative nature of the game ensured the volume was cranked up by both sets of supporters, though it was ultimately the home contingent who had the last laugh with their late leveller.