• Phil James

Cardiff City 0-2 Middlesbrough: Match report

Middlesbrough recorded their third win in a week as goals from Andraz Sporar and Martin Payero secured a 2-0 win over Cardiff City.


Subjecting the Bluebirds to their eighth successive defeat and costing Mick McCarthy his job as manager, this was Boro’s best display of the season with them dominant for the majority of the game.



Neil Warnock's only quibble Neil Warnock that they failed to convert more of the chances they made in a dominant display.


The starting line up showed two changes from the midweek victory against Barnsley with Uche Ikpeazu and Onel Hernandez replacing Duncan Watmore and Isaiah Jones.


Middlesbrough started on the front foot with Sporar’s clever flick finding Ikpeazu whose shot was blocked before a corner flashed through the box falling to Paddy McNair who hooked over.



There was an early scare for Payero after Marlon Pack’s high boot caught him but after lengthy treatment he was able to continue.


Pack then followed through after challenging Sporar catching the Slovenian high on his leg with his studs and could perhaps count himself fortunate that the card he was shown was only yellow, much to the fury of Warnock in the Middlesbrough technical area.


Jonny Howson was next to go forward as he played in Sporar whose shot was blocked by ex-Boro man Aden Flint, before Marcus Tavernier flashed a cross along the six-yard box with no one there to convert.



On too many occasions Boro broke with menace but the final ball was lacking and when the breakthrough did come it was with the referee’s assistance.


On 34 minutes a long throw into the Cardiff box was cleared to Sporar whose shot was blocked by the hand of Bluebirds defender, Mark McGuinness.


Despite it appearing to be an involuntary interception, the referee pointed for a penalty and booked McGuinness to rub salt into the wound. Following lengthy Cardiff protests delaying the kick, Sporar remained calm and placed the ball to the centre of the goal past keeper, Alex Smithies.



Boro remained on the front foot and Matt Crooks was set free on goal brilliantly by Payero but seemed to delay his finish and clipped the ball well wide of the target.


Ikpeazu, a constant thorn in Cardiff’s side, then span his man but with three team-mates waiting for a cross tried to beat Smithies at his near post, the Cardiff keeper managing to smuggle the ball around the post.


Boro’s first half dominance was illustrated by Cardiff not a having a single attempt on goal in the first half and this will have informed Mick McCarthy to introduce former Boro target, striker Kieffer Moore, at the break.



This change seemed to invigorate Cardiff who started the second period well with Boro keeper Joe Lumley being forced into a point blank save from James Collins and Flint hitting the bar from a deep corner.


Boro weathered the storm and began to reassert themselves onto the game with Payero bending a shot just wide from the edge of the penalty, before McNair hit the crossbar from a cross-shot.


Tavernier then broke from midfield but elected to shoot instead of playing in a better-placed Payero, his strike being blocked by a Cardiff man.



Middlesbrough needed a second goal to kill the game and it came in the 74th minute.


Ikpeazu was found near the corner flag by Howson and did well to hold off his marker before crossing the ball to Sporar who played in Payero.


The Argentinian took a touch away from his marker and blasted it into the corner for his first goal in a Boro shirt, a strike celebrated wildly by both the players and fans alike.



More chances came as Cardiff looked more and more dispirited with Ikpeazu’s shot heading for the top corner but being well held by Smithies, substitute Josh Coburn having his shot smothered by the Cardiff number 1 and Watmore clipping just wide after being played in by Tavernier.


Boro had to settle for just the two goals in the end but will be delighted with a third consecutive win that saw them move to 6th in the table and will look forward to next Saturday’s clash at home to Birmingham City where they will hope to continue their excellent form.


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