Middlesborough started the brighter of the two sides but that gave little indication of what was to be the tone for the day. Cardiff began to apss fluently after a slow opening and there appeared little danger when Whittingham controlled a loose ball in the Boro area. There were three men around the former Aston Villa winger but some exquisite control and skill saw him fashion a small amount of space before curling a sublime effort into the top coner.
Soon afterwards, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink missed a good chance to extend the lead, nodding a low cross marginally wide after City took control. On 23 minutes, Cardiff did get another. A central free-kick was beautifully curled to the far post whereRoger Johnson was left space to send a diving header back across Schwartzer and into the net. The marking was poor but the chance was unbelievably hard to control and for RJ to perfectly place inside the far post was a truly remarkable finish.
Those expecting a Boro onslaught were disappointed. They did get their first meaningful effort soon afterwards but Alves’ long shot was beaten away by Enckelman.
The longer the game went on, the more comfortable City looked. Middlesborough were repelled by Loovens who was immense, Johnson dominant and the omniscient Kevin McNaughton who kept Downing quiet. Tony Capaldi also played his part and Gary O’Neil and then Adam Johnson on the Boro right wing were virtual spectators.
The second half saw more of the same but with Cardiff unsuprisingly happy not to commit men forward. Nevertheless they still bossed possession and Steve McPhail had a chance after some intricate passing between Hasselbaink and Whittingham.
Boro had their best chance after a Hasselbaink handball allowed Stewart Downing to hit a 25 yard free-kick marginally over but that was as good as it got and soon after – the Riverside began to empty!
Parry hit Boro on the counter attack shortly after being booked but wasted possession with a poor effort with others in support. Steve Thompson also had a header saved as any Boro pressure failed to materialise.
Downing and centre-back Robert Huth saw poor long range efforts miss the target and Cardiff professionally saw out the game for a memorable victory. It was a controlled and dominant performance by the Bluebirds who looked comfortable all game – it really was hard to imagine how easy Middlesbrough made it for us.
A fantastic result and the Bluebirds deservedly enter the LAST FOUR of the FA Cup. Semi-finals are drawn today, and we’re all going to Wem-ber-ley!!!
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