Cardiff City 2, Manchester United 2
Cardiff City: Campbell 33', Kim 90+1'
Manchester United: Rooney 15', Evra 45'
Man of the match: Wayne Rooney (Manchester Utd)
Cardiff // When Manchester United last visited South Wales, on the opening day of the season at Swansea City, Wayne Rooney’s Old Trafford future was in doubt.
Unhappy, Rooney came on and influenced the game greatly. The idea of him being benched now is as absurd as the image of him wearing a Chelsea shirt.
Rooney has been United’s best performer this season, his foil Robin van Persie a contributor to his success. The absence of the injured Dutchman with a groin injury for United on Sunday could have hindered Rooney. Instead, he produced another man-of-the-match performance.
Whether United’s No 10 should have been on the field after a seventh-minute altercation with Jordon Mutch is doubtful.
Rooney and Mutch chased a ball before the frustrated striker struck and appeared to kick Mutch. Despite receiving support from some Cardiff players, Rooney was fortunate only to receive a yellow card and boos for the rest of the game from a raucous home crowd.
They had double reason to curse when Rooney put United ahead after 14 minutes.
Antonio Valencia intercepted a dreadful pass from Ben Turner, ran at the Cardiff defence, the passed to Hernandez, who fed Rooney to shoot from 15 yards.
Cardiff improved and deserved their 32nd-minute equaliser. Gary Medel’s pass split United’s defence and found Mutch, who made a splendid pass of his own toward Fraizer Campbell. He clipped the ball past David de Gea. His boss Malky Mackay was overcome with elation.
Campbell, who scored twice in a victory over Manchester City in August, almost made it two a few minutes later, volleying skywards as United’s defence struggled.
Cardiff were superior for the remainder of the first period, as Rooney dropped deeper to get more of the ball. Yet it was United who re-took the lead when Patrice Evra met another excellent Rooney corner in the 44th minute, before celebrating in front of the 2,700 travelling supporters. It was an untimely blow for the home team.
Chances continued into a less-frenetic second period, with Campbell chipping the ball against the bar in the 53rd minute. Daniel Welbeck was introduced after a month out and should have scored a third for United after Rooney set him up, while Ryan Giggs replaced Javier Hernandez after 73 minutes to a mixture of applause and boos in his hometown.
Giggs was to help United close the game out and his side would have risen to fourth if they had recorded a fourth successive Premier League victory.
Their plan was working until a 91st-minute Kim Bo-Kyung headed equaliser for Cardiff from a Peter Whittingham free-kick.
Rooney had a chance to score a winner, but could not control the ball, to the despair of David Moyes.
The ecstatic home fans sang Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. They did worry about some things, but every little thing was all right in the end. Cardiff deserved their point and stay 15th.
“I was delighted with our performance,” Mackay said. “Our first half was one of the best of the season. Our goal was deserved.”
As for Rooney’s yellow card and Gary Medel’s second- half altercation with Marouane Fellaini, Mackay said: “Some referees might send off. There were tasty challenges, but I think the referee got it right on both occasions.”
Moyes was less sanguine.
“Disappointed,” he said. “It was similar to Southampton when we had the game under control with a minute to go and then we conceded from a set piece. We can’t keep dropping two points and we could have played better, but it’s a tough place to come after international duty and I would have taken the result before the game.”
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