It appeared that it was going to be a long, hard season for Cardiff City FC when they suffered a chastening return to the English top flight on the opening weekend, but they are flying high once again after Sunday's memorable win against Manchester City FC.
Few can have fancied Cardiff to overturn big-spending City after their first match back in England's top division since 1961/62 had ended in a 2-0 loss at West Ham United FC last weekend. Yet that is exactly what happened as Malky Mackay's team recovered from going behind to prevail 3-2.
The victory was doubly sweet for Fraizer Campbell – scorer of the Welsh club's second and third goals – as the forward rose through the youth ranks at City's neighbours Manchester United FC. "They had a central midfielder playing centre-back, so you knew there'd be a bit of an opportunity there," said the 25-year-old, who converted twice from crosses. "There were some great deliveries into the penalty box, and it was a great team performance."
With Premier League runners-up City containing high-profile summer transfers Álvaro Negredo, Fernandinho and Jesús Navas in their matchday squad, nobody was expecting Cardiff to come away with anything, especially after Manuel Pellegrini's side dismissed Newcastle United FC 4-0 on Monday. But in front of a partisan crowd in the Welsh capital, the hosts started to upset the odds when Aron Gunnarsson cancelled out Edin Džeko's opener.
"The atmosphere was fantastic before the game and to go and give a performance like that against a team like that was amazing," said manager Mackay. "We have to have belief we can compete. We showed real character and realised that when we got on the ball we could hurt them. They had lots of possession, but we deserved to win the game."
Perhaps more significantly, the former defender feels his charges fully merit their place in the Premier League, having earned automatic promotion last season after missing out in the play-offs three years in a row. "You want to play against the best in the best league in the world; we are doing that and I am proud of everyone at the club. There have been lots of downs, but everyone here will have a smile on their face tonight. We deserve to be here. We have a great record at home. We have to make sure Cardiff is a fortress."
Meanwhile, new City manager Pellegrini admitted that he had expected to take the points home from Wales. "It was a pity. I did not expect to lose," he said. "Set pieces are very important. They did better than our defending and scored two goals from corners. They are not an easy team to play."
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.