Adam Armstrong’s 45-yard wonder goal dented Cardiff’s play-off hopes as Blackburn took the spoils with a thrilling 3-2 victory.
Tony Mowbray’s Rovers twice came from behind thanks to goals from Danny Graham and Dominic Samuel before Armstrong produced one of the goals of the Sky Bet Championship season.
Cardiff’s Will Vaulks had opened the scoring with another superb strike and Robert Glatzel put the Bluebirds back ahead after Graham’s equaliser but they had not banked on Armstrong’s effort.
The Welsh side still remain in sixth place going into Wednesday’s fixtures. Both teams wore black armbands and held a minute’s silence in memory of Cardiff great Peter Whittingham, who died in March. Whittingham ended his career with Rovers.
Cardiff passed the ball nicely in wet conditions early on but it was Rovers who should have opened the scoring when Armstrong’s cross from the left reached the far post, but visiting right-back Ryan Nyambe could only hook over.
Cardiff’s Vaulks responded by putting his side ahead with a moment of magic. Racing on to a Joe Ralls pass down the left, Vaulks looked totally bereft of options in the box.
He opted for an outrageous lobbed attempt on goal with the outside of his right foot as a result and his technique was perfect as the ball cleared Christian Walton in the Rovers goal.
Blackburn were not behind for long. Graham was the scorer after Darragh Lenihan’s header from a corner hit the post and then Cardiff goalkeeper Alex Smithies, with the striker tapping in.
Junior Hoilett volleyed just wide as Cardiff looked for a response and Josh Murphy also worked Walton from range before Glatzel came up trumps.
Ralls looked to get a shot away but did well to stay patient. The ball went to Murphy and then Joe Bennett, whose cross was turned in by the German striker.
Cardiff kept Blackburn waiting in the rain at the start of the second half and it proved to be a mistake. Curtis Nelson made a hash of a cross and then fell Samuel in the box.
It looked a clear penalty and although the shouts were waved away by referee Matt Donohue, it mattered little to Rovers as Armstrong put the ball straight back in and Samuel converted.
The goal gave Blackburn belief and both teams had chances in an open second half. Smithies was forced into a fine save to stop Samuel from putting Rovers ahead for the first time.
Armstrong then topped Vaulks’ effort in the 70th minute. Cardiff’s Leandro Bacuna gave the ball away in midfield and Armstrong struck the ball first time.
The ball sailed over Smithies to leave Cardiff shell-shocked and they could not respond despite Lee Tomlin and Callum Paterson appearing off the bench.
What the managers said…
Cardiff’s Neil Harris: “First and foremost I’m frustrated, of course. The third goal is just a brilliant strike – it’s a moment of class. He’s put it in the net from 45 yards, so fair play to the lad. The little bit of the rub of green we’ve had in previous games wasn’t there. We have to look at ourselves – did I pick the right team? It’s not a time for over-analysing it.
“We just need to move on to Friday and a tough game against Fulham. We have had to work ridiculously hard to get where we are. This is a reminder that if we don’t win all the little duels then we are not as good as other teams. We have to rake it on the chin and wait for other results. There are two weeks of the season left so it’s no time for regret.”
Blackburn’s Tony Mowbray: “Adam has probably got his own goal of the season award going on. He’s been doing it for however long he’s been at this club so we shouldn’t be surprised when he scores great goals. We’ve lost a lot of goals out of the team and yet we have still functioned well even without players like Bradley Dack. Adam has stepped up in his absence.
“I think it was a deserved win on the balance of play. We were struggling at half time to see how we were getting beaten, but the result was fair in the end. We are talking to the team about performance and we will move on to the next
one now and not worry about who we can catch.”