Championship
Cardiff2Nottm Forest1

Cardiff City 2-1 Nottingham Forest

Liam Bridcutt of Nottingham Forest is challenged by Cardiff City's Aron Gunnarsson
Liam Bridcutt of Nottingham Forest is challenged by Cardiff City's Aron Gunnarsson

Cardiff City took a big step towards promotion to the Premier League as Aron Gunnarsson's first goal in a year ensured victory over Nottingham Forest.

Forest looked to have frustrated Cardiff as a rare Liam Bridcutt strike cancelled out Sean Morrison's first-half opener.

But Gunnarsson, 28, drove home with 16 minutes left, leaving Cardiff needing six points from three games to go up.

Defeat meant Forest's hopes of a top-half finish finally disappearing.

The win moved the Bluebirds into second, one point ahead of third-placed Fulham and they play their game in hand away to Derby on Tuesday, 24 April.

Morrison's fifth headed goal of 2017-18

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Cardiff City boss praises his players after their 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest.

Forest will again be reminded of the work needed if they are to challenge under Aitor Karanka next season.

Though they broke their run of six games without a goal in last weekend's win over Ipswich, they will rue some of the missed chances and poor set-piece defence that undermined some encouraging football in the Welsh capital.

Forest's Joe Lolley broke clear nine minutes in, but smashed his shot over the bar from inside the area while Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was able to smother the danger when Bridcutt attempted to finish a threatening counter on 23 minutes.

Morrison lost possession in the build up to that chance following an uncharacteristic error, though he responded in familiar style from a set-piece.

His 35th minute goal from Joe Ralls' corner was his fifth of the season, each of them headers.

Forest's set-piece weakness

Jack Colback of Nottingham Forest is challenged by Cardiff City's Craig Bryson
Forest have conceded 13 goals from corners this season

It exposed another Forest weakness; the goal was the 13th conceded from a corner this season and the 25th from a set-piece, the most in the Championship.

The visitors were inches away from conceding a second three minutes after the restart, Kenneth Zohore racing onto Gunnarsson's through ball only for his clipped shot to hit the post and bounce away when it seemed the Dane had scored.

And it proved costly just moments later when Cardiff's defence was breached, substitute Sol Bamba being caught out and Bridcutt left free to direct home Ben Osborn's cross, scoring his first goal in seven years in the process.

Cardiff had shouts for a penalty turned down, but eventually they found their breakthrough when, from another set-piece, Bamba nodded down and allowed Gunnarsson to lash home from close range.

It was the Iceland international's first goal since the same fixture at this time in 2017, though his effort in blocking a Jack Colback shot with five minutes remaining was just as important.

Cardiff go to Derby on Tuesday knowing victory could be enough for promotion if Fulham lose at home to relegated Sunderland on Friday.

Bluebirds boss Neil Warnock:

"We always make it interesting - that's why TV love us because there's never a dull game.

"We haven't played as well as we can, but it's all about getting a result, especially playing last, late on a Saturday.

"The goal gave us a jolt, [Forest are[ playing with freedom with nothing at stake. All credit to boys, they don't know when they're beat. They're an amazing group of players, I'm ever so proud of them."

Forest manager Aitor Karanka:

"It's a game we could have win 2-1 or 3-1. It's frustrating for me.

"It is something we need to address. It is impossible to win games if you don't take your chances.

"We have improved, but we need to score when we create.

"Nobody expected Cardiff to be in this position, but they deserve to be there."

Line-ups

Cardiff

  • 25Etheridge
  • 2PeltierSubstituted forBambaat 45'minutes
  • 4Morrison
  • 5Ecuele Manga
  • 3Bennett
  • 8Ralls
  • 17Gunnarsson
  • 21BrysonSubstituted forPatersonat 87'minutes
  • 19Mendez-LaingSubstituted forWildschutat 71'minutes
  • 10Zohore
  • 33Hoilett

Substitutes

  • 13Pilkington
  • 14Bamba
  • 18Paterson
  • 24Grujic
  • 28Murphy
  • 35Wildschut
  • 44Madine

Nottm Forest

  • 33Kapino
  • 2Lichaj
  • 3Pereira FigueiredoSubstituted forMancienneat 60'minutesBooked at 73mins
  • 13Fox
  • 11Osborn
  • 7BridcuttSubstituted forGuédiouraat 71'minutes
  • 18ColbackBooked at 90mins
  • 32WatsonBooked at 74mins
  • 14Cash
  • 17Brereton
  • 23LolleySubstituted forVelliosat 81'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Mancienne
  • 5Guédioura
  • 20Dowell
  • 27Darikwa
  • 31Bouchalakis
  • 39Vellios
  • 43Smith
Referee:
Peter Bankes
Attendance:
21,310

Match Stats

Home TeamCardiffAway TeamNottm Forest
Possession
Home43%
Away57%
Shots
Home14
Away8
Shots on Target
Home5
Away3
Corners
Home6
Away2
Fouls
Home9
Away15

Live Text

Match ends, Cardiff City 2, Nottingham Forest 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Cardiff City 2, Nottingham Forest 1.

Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Kenneth Zohore (Cardiff City).

Booking

Jack Colback (Nottingham Forest) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Jack Colback (Nottingham Forest).

Callum Paterson (Cardiff City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt missed. Joe Ralls (Cardiff City) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Aron Gunnarsson.

Jack Colback (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Callum Paterson (Cardiff City).

Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Kenneth Zohore (Cardiff City).

Foul by Apostolos Vellios (Nottingham Forest).

Sean Morrison (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Cardiff City. Callum Paterson replaces Craig Bryson.

Attempt saved. Sean Morrison (Cardiff City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Joe Ralls.

Foul by Adlène Guédioura (Nottingham Forest).

David Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) because of an injury.

Attempt missed. Matthew Cash (Nottingham Forest) header from the right side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Ben Osborn with a cross.

Attempt blocked. Jack Colback (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Apostolos Vellios.

Attempt missed. Sean Morrison (Cardiff City) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Joe Ralls following a set piece situation.

Foul by Michael Mancienne (Nottingham Forest).

Kenneth Zohore (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Apostolos Vellios replaces Joe Lolley.

Attempt missed. Yanic Wildschut (Cardiff City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses the top right corner.

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Daniel Fox.

Goal!

Goal! Cardiff City 2, Nottingham Forest 1. Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Sol Bamba with a headed pass following a set piece situation.

Booking

Ben Watson (Nottingham Forest) is shown the yellow card.

Booking

Michael Mancienne (Nottingham Forest) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Michael Mancienne (Nottingham Forest).

Kenneth Zohore (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Adlène Guédioura (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Joe Ralls (Cardiff City).

Foul by Ben Brereton (Nottingham Forest).

Sean Morrison (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Cardiff City. Yanic Wildschut replaces Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.

Substitution

Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Adlène Guédioura replaces Liam Bridcutt.

Foul by Liam Bridcutt (Nottingham Forest).

goal
SAM's prediction
Home win 67%Draw 20%Away win 13%

SAM, the Sports Analytics Machine, is a super-computer built by @ProfIanMcHale of the University of Liverpool.

As It Stood

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1Wolves44308682364698
2Cardiff43268966363086
3Fulham442413776423485
4Aston Villa4424101071403182
5Middlesbrough442191463432072
6Millwall4418151155431269
7Derby4318141162451768
8Brentford4418141261491268
9Preston441716115445967
10Bristol City4417151265551066
11Sheff Utd44199165952766
12Leeds44169195662-657
13Norwich441415154654-857
14Ipswich44168205158-756
15Sheff Wed441314175459-553
16QPR441411195567-1253
17Nottm Forest43147224662-1649
18Hull441115186967248
19Reading441013214866-1843
20Birmingham44127253464-3043
21Bolton44913223670-3440
22Barnsley43814214565-2038
23Burton44911243579-4438
24Sunderland44616224878-3034
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