Burnley 1-1 Cardiff

Cardiff City will play Reading in their Championship play-off semi-final after a draw with Burnley saw the Bluebirds finish fourth.

Jay Rodriguez's 15th goal of the season, a lovely strike across Cardiff keeper Stephen Bywater from the edge of the area, gave Burnley a deserved lead.

Rodriguez and Ross Wallace had chances to extend the Clarets' lead before Craig Bellamy's late leveller.

Cardiff's captain ran on to Stephen McPhail's chip to lob Brian Jensen.

But Swansea's 4-0 triumph over relegated Sheffield United meant Cardiff were leapfrogged by their Welsh rivals into third on the last day of the regular season.

The announcement an hour before kick-off that champions Queens Park Rangers would not face a points deduction from the Alejandro Faurlin hearing confirmed that Cardiff, who were in third at the start of play, could not potentially win automatic promotion with victory at Turf Moor.

Cardiff though, could have responded to any potential disappointment with a goal inside the opening minute as Peter Whittingham teed-up Chris Burke, who was free in the area, but the winger got the ball trapped under his feet and Burnley cleared.

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The visitors had stand-in goalkeeper Bywater to thank however, when Ross Wallace wriggled free of covering full-back Paul Quinn down Burnley's left-hand-side.

But Wallace's close-range angled drive was tipped onto the woodwork by Bywater, who was playing in place of groin injury victim Tom Heaton.

Cardiff's defence, however, had not heeded Burnley's attacking warning as within five minutes the hosts were ahead.

Rodriguez ran onto Andre Bikey's defence-splitting ball through the flat-footed Bluebirds back-line to fire across Bywater and into his far corner from the right-hand-side of the area.

Burnley, relegated from the Premier League last season, had only pride to play for and subsequently played with a freedom which created another early opening for Rodriguez.

He pounced onto Wallace's incisive pass through the heart of the Cardiff rear-guard though his dinked effort over an on-rushing Bywater dribbled wide.

But in the rush to stop Rodriguez, Bywater clashed with returning centre-back Mark Hudson, starting his first game for six weeks since returning from a knee injury, and Hudson later hobbled off to be replaced by Darcy Blake.

Cardiff, who had not won at Turf Moor since 1988, should have levelled just before the half-hour mark as Jason Koumas, starting his first game since November, was set free in the penalty area by Whittingham's delicate diagonal ball.

Burnley's Jay Rodriguez celebrates scoring with Jack Cork
Jay Rodriguez gave Burnley the lead after 13 minutes

But the on-loan Wigan midfielder's first touch was poor when through one-on-one and Jensen was out to smoother Koumas' rushed left-foot effort from a tight angle.

Jensen then showed his safe hands in sodden conditions at Turf Moor to keep hold of Jay Bothroyd's low shot on the turn as Cardiff pressed at the end of a Burnley dominated first-half.

The second-half did not have the entertainment as the first but Cardiff's Quinn should have tested Jensen, but his six-yard header from Whittingham's inswinging right-wing corner went wide.

Burnley then threatened to double their lead as Chris Eagles and Danny Fox both had goal-bound shots blocked.

But it was Jack Cork, on loan from Premier League title-chasers Chelsea, who almost opened up Cardiff's defence again as the Burnley midfielder jinked past two covering defenders before Quinn intervened as Cork threatened to pull the trigger from 15 yards.

Yet it was Cardiff that equalised in the last-minute with a lovely Bellamy lob over on-rushing Jensen after substitute Stephen McPhail's superb chipped pass over the Burnley back-line.

But Bellamy's 11th of the season could have counted for nothing if the impressive Cork's late diving header had been on target.

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