Solskjaer off to a winning start

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iol spt jan4 Ole Gunnar

Reuters

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer enjoyed a memorable start to his Cardiff City managerial career as his side fought back to beat Newcastle United 2-1 in the FA Cup. Photo by: Russell Cheyne

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer enjoyed a memorable start to his Cardiff City managerial career on Saturday as his side fought back to beat Newcastle United 2-1 in the FA Cup.

Newcastle were leading the third-round tie 1-0 through a goal by Papiss Cisse and looked in control when Solskjaer sent on substitutes Fraizer Campbell and Craig Noone mid-way through the second half at St James' Park.

The two new arrivals swiftly transformed the tie with the goals that inflicted another early FA Cup exit on Newcastle, who have fallen at the first hurdle three times in the last four seasons.

It was a surprise success for Solskjaer, who made his name as an impact substitute with Manchester United, as his side had been second-best for much of the game.

With Cardiff hovering only one point above the Premier League relegation zone, their new manager made seven changes when selecting his team for the first time.

He appeared to believe that the tie primarily offered an opportunity for him to scrutinise some of the players who have been on the fringes of the team under his predecessor, Malky Mackay.

And several of them made a good early impression against a Newcastle side showing five changes; most of them enforced through injuries to key players such as Fabricio Coloccini and Yohan Cabaye.

Solskjaer, who sent out tactical instructions to midfielder Don Cowie within five minutes of the start, even saw the visitors get the ball in the Newcastle net after only nine minutes.

Mark Hudson exploited the absence of Coloccini and his partner in the centre of defence, Mike Williamson, when he rose well to head in a corner, but referee Anthony Taylor ruled it out for a push by the Cardiff captain.

Kevin McNaughton and Kim Bo-kyung also fired shots wide before Newcastle's Vurnon Anita forced David Marshall to make a routine save in the 17th minute, while Hatem Ben Arfa also went close.

Ben Arfa was given a free role behind Cisse by Newcastle manager Alan Pardew, who considers the Frenchman's contributions during his sporadic appearances this season no more than adequate.

However, there was a glimpse of Ben Arfa's quality in the 25th minute when he negotiated a route away from three defenders to find space for a shot that thudded back off a post.

Yoan Gouffran, another of Newcastle's French contingent, was off-target with another attempt before the end of the half, with Cardiff's early threat having diminished in a manner that would have concerned Solskjaer.

But they did trouble Newcastle keeper Rob Elliot again in the final seconds of the opening period when he had to turn away a 30-yard shot from Aron Gunnarsson.

It was a rare piece of action for Elliot, while his opposite number Marshall continued to be far the busier goalkeeper after the break, mainly because of Ben Arfa's evident desire to impress Pardew.

Marshall brilliantly denied Ben Arfa a goal in the 51st minute when he pushed the French international's strike to safety via the bar, then he turned over Moussa Sissoko's header after Ben Arfa's trickery created the opportunity for a cross.

But Newcastle's pressure finally produced the reward they deserved in the 62nd minute with a goal made in France.

Gouffran's ball sent Sissoko surging into the area, where he was blocked by Hudson's sliding tackle, but Cisse followed up to hook in his third goal of the season.

Cardiff had done little to suggest they would fight their way back into the tie, but, following the two substitutions, they turned the game around.

Noone had been on the pitch only a minute when he powered in an equaliser from nearly 25 yards in the 73rd minute, then Campbell rose unchallenged at the far post to head in a corner from Peter Whittingham with 10 minutes to go.–


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