Cardiff City 2 Manchester United 2
Wayne Rooney could have been excused for thanking Kim Bo-Kyung for scoring Cardiff City’s injury-time equaliser at the Cardiff City Stadium.
After all, the South Korean’s close-range header from a Peter Whittingham free-kick, momentarily took the spotlight away from the England striker’s controversial afternoon in south Wales.
On top of his 15th-minute goal and perfect delivery for Patrice Evra’s headed goal, two minutes before half time, he might have been sent off for kicking out at Cardiff midfielder Jordon Mutch. Referee Neil Swarbrick had no choice but to brandish a card, the only question was whether it should have been yellow or red.
Strangely, there were no complaints from Cardiff manager Malky Mackay, who was quick to praise Swarbrick for the way he handled a feisty game between two sides who needed to win for altogether different reasons.
He said: “I have looked at it again and some referees would have sent him off. But overall I thought Neil Swarbrick had a good game. There were some tasty challenges, but his overall handling was excellent.”
United manager David Moyes was also supportive of his player and the official. He said: “I thought Mutch ran across his path and runs down the line of the ball. I think Wayne’s half in motion and I don’t think it is anymore than a booking.”
As for the game, Moyes added: “I’m disappointed. It was similar to the game against Southampton where we had the game under control with a minute to go and conceded from a set-piece.”
There was certainly plenty of spice in a game that United should have led as early as the sixth minute when Antonio Valencia picked out Rooney on the penalty spot, only to see the England striker’s smart shot well blocked by Ben Turner.
It was the pre cursor to a busy 90 seconds during which Rooney became unnecessarily involved with Mutch as a United attack fizzled out to nothing.
Seven minutes later and Rooney was celebrating a goal that came about after Turner’s crossfield pass to Andrew Taylor was comfortably intercepted by Valencia. A first time cross from Valencia and a clever Xavier Hernandez flick later and Rooney was beating David Marshall via the outstretched leg of Gary Medel.
To their credit, Cardiff stuck to their task and a dozen minutes before the interval, the Premier League newcomers were level. The irrepressible Whittingham and midfield partner Mutch combined on halfway, before the latter produced a measured pass behind Jonny Evans for Fraizer Campbell to beat David de Gea.
When Evra rose to head home Rooney’s corner two minutes before half-time, United should have been on their way to sealing another valuable three points. It wasn’t to be.
Cue a City onslaught that left United with no option but to employ a greater number of bodies in their own half. They held out until the first minute of stoppage time when Whittingham sent in a free-kick that Bo-Kyung diverted past de Gea for the equaliser.
There was a sense of justice when Rooney had one final chance but fluffed his lines.
CARDIFF (4-1-4-1): Marshall 6; K Theophile-Catherine 6, Caulker 7, Turner 6, Taylor 6; Medel 6; Odemwingie 6 (Noone 65,5), Cowie 6, Whittingham 6, Mutch 6 (Bo-Kyung 77,6); Campbell 7 (Cornelius 84,5).
MANCHESTER UNITED (4-4-1-1): De Gea 6; Smalling 6, Ferdinand 7, Evans 6, Evra 6; Valencia 6, Cleverley 6, Fellaini 6, Januzaj 5 (Welbeck 68,6); Rooney 7; Hernandez 6 (Giggs 73,6).
Referee: N Swarbrick.
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