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2017/18 English League Championship, Regular Season
  • Sean Morrison (35')
  • Aron Gunnarsson (74')
  • Liam Bridcutt (50')

Gunnarsson keeps Cardiff on course for promotion

Aron Gunnarsson left it late to propel Cardiff back into the automatic promotion places with a 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest.
The midfielder saved the day with 15 minutes remaining to fire the goal that takes the Bluebirds to within two wins of promotion.
Sean Morrison gave the hosts the lead with a first-half header before Liam Bridcutt levelled things up five minutes after the break.
But Gunnarsson was in the right place at the right time to lift the hosts two points clear of Fulham.
Joe Ralls returned to the heart of the Cardiff midfield after missing eight matches with a knee issue but Sol Bamba was only fit enough for the bench after suffering a groin injury in the defeat of Norwich last week.
The pressure of reclaiming their place in the automatic promotion places seemed to weigh heavy on the Cardiff players as they endured a nervy start against Aitor Karanka's men.
Joe Lolley had an opportunity to pounce on some static defending, but he could only send his effort over the crossbar.
The winger opened up the defence again when he robbed Sean Morrison of possession and charged downfield to send Bridcutt through on goal. Neil Etheridge rushed out to smother the ball, and Forest were punished for their wastefulness moments later.
Their set-piece demons were laid bare after Tobias Figueredo stabbed the ball behind for a corner after 35 minutes.
The defender failed to pick up Cardiff skipper Morrison, who rose high at the back post to head in Ralls' inch perfect corner.
The Bluebirds were inches away from making it 2-0 after the restart when Kenneth Zohore's clipped shot was cleared off the line by Danny Fox after striking the post.
The visitors made them pay after 51 minutes when Ben Osborn raced past half-time substitute Sol Bamba and delivered a low cross for Bridcutt, who stabbed the ball past Etheridge from 10 yards out.
Zohore was struggling to provide the quality to get Cardiff's noses back in front until he got in behind Michael Mancienne to force a free-kick on the edge of the box.
Junior Hoilett's cross looked to have evaded everyone until Bamba struck out a toe to guide it back across goal. The loose ball was pounced upon by Gunnarsson, who fired in what could prove to be a season defining strike for the Welsh side after 74 minutes.
The combative midfielder then laid his body on the line to deny Forest's Apostolos Vellios and make sure of a vital three points.

English League Championship Standings

POS Team GP GD PTS
1 Leeds United 28 +17 54
2 Norwich City 28 +16 53
3 West Bromwich Albion 28 +22 50
4 Sheffield United 28 +17 50
5 Middlesbrough 28 +11 47
6 Derby County 28 +5 46
7 Bristol City 28 +6 44
8 Hull City 28 +6 40
9 Swansea City 28 +5 40
10 Blackburn Rovers 28 -4 40
11 Birmingham City 28 +7 39
12 Nottingham Forest 28 +7 39
13 Aston Villa 28 +6 39
14 Queens Park Rangers 28 -5 39
15 Stoke City 28 -2 38
16 Sheffield Wednesday 28 -12 35
17 Brentford 28 +4 34
18 Preston North End 28 -2 33
19 Millwall 28 -10 29
20 Wigan Athletic 28 -13 29
21 Rotherham United 28 -19 25
22 Reading 28 -12 23
23 Bolton Wanderers 28 -24 22
24 Ipswich Town 28 -26 18