Bluebirds blow Villa away
Cardiff City thoroughly outplayed Aston Villa to maintain their perfect start to the Championship season.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing headed the impressive hosts in front in a frenetic first half.
They dominated the second too, Kenneth Zohore tearing through the visitors’ defence to set up Junior Hoilett for Cardiff’s second.
Mendez-Laing then whipped in a fine third goal to take the Bluebirds top of the table after two games.
Cardiff appeared to be fitter and sharper in the early stages of this campaign, seemingly benefitting from Neil Warnock’s gruelling pre-season regime in his first full term in charge.
They set an electrifying tempo in the first half, with Loic Damour and Zohore both forcing Sam Johnstone into saves as Villa struggled to get a foothold in the game.
Cardiff’s pressure told when Hoilett’s deep cross to the back post found boyhood Birmingham City fan Mendez-Laing, who rose above a static Villa defence to nod in.
Rival managers Neil Warnock and Steve Bruce talk before kick-off in Cardiff
The visitors could have fallen further behind had Wales defender Neil Taylor not cleared Damour’s shot off the line, and they were booed off at half-time by some of their travelling supporters.
Villa boss Steve Bruce might have thought his team talk had worked when James Chester had a header pushed on to the crossbar after the interval.
But that chance was not representative of what the second half would entail for Villa.
They were run ragged by Zohore, the muscular Cardiff forward running through the heart of the visiting defence and squaring the ball to Hoilett, who converted into an empty net from close range.
Mendez-Laing then struck his third goal in two games in spectacular fashion, wrong-footing Chester with a series of step-overs before curling the ball into the far corner.
Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock:
“It’s why I’m in football really. Excitement, chances and saves, oohs and ahhs.
“I know Steve will be disappointed. We possibly played them at the right time because, with the quality they’ve got, he’ll turn that around.
“But I’m delighted to get the three points. We competed well and we looked really sharp at times.”
Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce:
“It was on the edge of embarrassment, if I’m being brutally honest.
“It’s a rude awakening for us, very early again. Arguably that’s the biggest doing I can remember having in the Championship.
“We didn’t do enough of the basics. We looked fragile every time they broke on us.”
Mendez -Laing 8
Subs; Richards (63 mins for Bennett) 6.5
Ward (86 mins for Mendez -Laing)
Kennedy (90 mins for Zohore)