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Cardiff 0-0 Newcastle United

Newcastle travelled to Cardiff City for their first away game of the season.

Both teams went into this one with no points from their opening fixtures, with Newcastle’s rather unlucky not to get something against Spurs whilst the Bluebirds went down rather more convincingly against Bournemouth away 2-0.

Rafa would start with ten of the eleven to turned out against Spurs last week. Yedlin, whilst back in training was not risked for this one although the Magpies boss had confirmed before the game that he expected him to be fit for the next game, so Manquillo deputised.

STARTING XI: Dubravka, Dummett, Lascelles, Clark, Manquillo (Hayden, 45), Diame, Shelvey, Ritchie (Murphy, 70), Kenedy, Perez (Muto, 64), Joselu

In truth the entire game would lack what you’d expect in terms of Premier League quality. Only Shelvey on the Newcastle side looked of an appropriate standard, although Clark, Lascelles and Dummett at least stood strong at the back.

Newcastle were not at their best by any stretch. Their performance typified by Kenedy, who could and should, much like last week, have made the difference. His 95th minute penalty miss the closest either team would come to winning the game, and although Newcastle and boss Rafa Benitez will rue that miss, no one in black and white could argue they deserved all three points.

The game was more a battle than something of beauty. Punctuated by a rare moment of excitement or controversy.

Referee Craig Pawson was perhaps the centre of most things on the pitch. Never a good thing.

From a yellow card issued to Ritchie on 5 minutes, a card he was inexplicably shown after replays showed the challenge he was penalised for was actually committed by a Cardiff player on his own man. To a red card that should have been for Kenedy for kicking an opponent with the ball already cleared. To the, whistle happy, extravaganza or free kicks give predominantly to the home side. Most disturbing however was the red card given to Hayden on 66 minutes. Yes the foot was high but ANYONE who knows ANYTHING about football knows that was never a red card.

Hayden had come on at half time for Manquillo, who looked like a 6 year old playing for a high school team. Doesn’t all of this sound like Rafa should have asked for cover at full back this summer. Oh, yea. He did…

As for the football, there were chances. Bamba headed wide on 10 minutes, whilst Perez saw his effort well saved moments later. Perez again could have scored but for a great block / save from the Cardiff keeper on 40 after an outstanding cross by Shelvey.

Into the second half and Zahore could have put the home side ahead on 54 but placed his header wide when off balance and that was about it really.

‘It’, until the last moment on the game. A cross by Muto saw a rogue hand raised just inside the box from a Cardiff player. It felt like no-one in the ground expected Kenedy to hit the back of the net with the resultant spot kick after the Brazilian had, by his standards, a quite shocking game. And so it proved as his spot kick was comfortably saved.

With Newcastle’s next three league fixtures reading…

Chelsea (H)

Manchester City (A)

Arsenal (H)

…this result wasn’t ideal. At least we have a point on the board I guess.

The Magpies will need to pull off a shock or two in these games however, otherwise it’s almost certain its going to be a case of playing catch up for the entire season.

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