Cardiff City vs Ipswich Town. Sky Bet Championship.
Cardiff City StadiumAttendance15,182.
Saturday 18 March 2017 18:14, UK
Kenneth Zohore struck twice for Cardiff in a 3-1 triumph to leave Ipswich without a win in seven Sky Bet Championship matches.
The visitors had drawn their last six league matches, but gave themselves a chance to break that run when Luke Chambers headed home in the first half. But Zohore turned the game on its head with strikes either side of half-time to make it nine goals from his last 10 matches.
Joe Bennett completed the job with just under half an hour to play as Cardiff claimed their first victory in five matches.
The hosts forced the issue in the opening exchanges and almost took the lead through Peter Whittingham's left footed free-kick. But the Tractor Boys responded with a counter-attack moments later. Tom Lawrence broke into the Cardiff half and delivered an inch-perfect ball to David McGoldrick, but Allan McGregor produced a stunning save to deny him.
Ipswich made no mistake from another dangerous Lawrence cross to take the lead after 24 minutes. Sol Bamba clattered into Jordan Spence on the left wing, and Chambers rose highest at the far post to head the resulting free-kick home.
Cardiff came close to levelling with a free-kick of their own, but Ipswich goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski reacted well to push Bennett's effort over the bar.
Zohore saw a tame shot saved moments later, but he was not to be denied his eighth goal in 10 games. Jazz Richards whipped a cross into the far post and captain Sean Morrison headed the ball back across goal for the Danish striker to power home from close range after 36 minutes.
Junior Hoilett was cruelly denied a goal that would have given his side the lead when he turned and shot against the post from inside the penalty area.
But they completed the turnaround five minutes into the second half thanks to in-form striker Zohore. The 23-year-old flicked a long ball onto Hoilett, who sent a deft back heel into the path of Zohore, and he calmly finished with his left-foot past Bialkowski.
And the game was up for Mick McCarthy's men after 63 minutes when Bennett scored his first goal for the Bluebirds. Harris sprinted down the left wing before cutting inside past Cole Skuse and feeding the left-back, who fired in his first league goal since 2014.
Bluebirds skipper Morrison showed his defensive qualities to get in the way of a Brett Pitman shot to maintain the two-goal lead. Hoilett should have made it four when he was found by Pilkington in the box, but he shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Cardiff boss Neil Warnock:
"[Zohore] was a waste of time when I first arrived, he just walked about and always had his gloves on. But he's a nice lad - it was a crucial moment in his career and the penny has finally dropped for him. He's got every attribute a good striker needs, you can't coach him.
"You wouldn't swap him for many in this league. There have been a few players like him who have surprised me like Victor Moses and Phil Jagielka. With a little bit more nous we would have nine points from three games, but if you had told me we would have had 51 points with eight games to go, I would have snapped your hand off.
"We were winning battles in every department, and the fans got behind us to create a brilliant atmosphere. We created a lot more today and I really enjoyed it."
Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy:
"We're in a relegation scrap, there is no denying that. I'm looking over my shoulder at teams behind me not in-front. I haven't shied away from that, we can't afford to play like that because there is always somebody that scraps their way out.
"It's amazing the fight you see when you are battling your way out of the relegation zone, but it can be quite the opposite when you get dragged into it. We all need to regroup; we have some huge games against Birmingham and Wigan coming up so we need to compete better.
"It's important that everyone's in it together and we need to make Portman Road a tough place to go. I'm not happy, and I'm not happy that others aren't happy and I understand the discerning voices. They played well and we played poorly - we shouldn't be conceding goals like we did today."