NEWCASTLE 1(Papiss Cisse 62) CARDIFF 2(Craig Noone 73, Frazier Campbell 80)
How apt, that in a competition built on the concept of romance, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would get off to a dream start.
In his first match in charge of Cardiff, he inspired his side to a thrilling 2-1 comeback win over Newcastle at St James’ Park yesterday to send his team into the FA Cup fourth round.
How appropriate, that the legendary Manchester United super-sub would engineer the victory with a couple of inspired substitutions.
The Magpies thought they had killed off the visitors’ resistance when Papiss Cisse broke the deadlock with a 62nd-minute goal.
But Solskjaer, who knows a thing or two about strength from the bench, got it spot on when his two substitutes Fraizer Campbell and Craig Noone scored a goal apiece to complete the remarkable turnaround.
Now, the challenge is to build on this momentum and lift his side away from their Premiership misery.
A run of just one win in 10 matches have left the Bluebirds 17th in the league, only one point away from the dreaded drop zone and four from bottom-placed Sunderland.
His predecessor Malky Mackay built a team on a no-frills foundation of industry and defensive discipline.
Cardiff fans must therefore have welcomed the sight of an attacking line-up in Solskjaer’s first match in charge.
The 40-year-old Norwegian thought his team had drawn first blood early in the match, when Mark Hudson headed the ball in, only for the referee to blow for a foul in the penalty box.
But the Magpies began to look more and more threatening as the game went on, especially on the counter-attack.
Newcastle’s Hatem Ben Arfa had a decent chance to break the deadlock in the 19th minute, but from just inside the penalty area, he dragged his shot wide.
Six minutes later, he went even closer, but as goalkeeper David Marshall stood and watched his rasping drive go past him, the ball rebounded off the woodwork.
In the 62nd minute, the hosts went ahead.
Cisse produced a clinical finish from inside the box to send the home crowd wild with joy.
But Cardiff didn’t give up.
They almost snatched an equaliser shortly after, when Campbell’s shot hit the post and Peter Odemwingie knocked the rebound over the bar.
Then Solskjaer’s magic came into play.
He brought on Noone for Odemwingie in the 72nd minute, and the impact was almost instant.
With his first touch of the ball, Noone fired in a beauty from about 20 metres out to level the score.
But Cardiff wanted more.
Campbell, a 60th-minute substitute for forward Andreas Cornelius, inflicted on Newcastle the fatal blow 10 minutes from time. As his powerful header bulged the back of the net, it was as if the clock had been turned back.
Solskjaer did it from the bench again.
NEWCASTLE: Robert Elliot, Davide Santon, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Massadio Haidara, Steven Taylor, Moussa Sissoko (Loic Remy 85), Vurnon Anita, Yoan Gouffran (Gabriel Obertan 63), Cheik Tiote, Papiss Cisse (Shola Ameobi 85), Hatem Ben Arfa
CARDIFF: David Marshall, Mark Hudson, Ben Turner, Kevin McNaughton, Declan John, Peter Whittingham, Kim Bo Kyung (Tommy Smith 79), Aron Gunnarsson, Don Cowie, Andreas Cornelius (Fraizer Campbell 60), Peter Odemwingie (Craig Noone 72)
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