sport

Cardiff hold Villa to draw

Cardiff remain in the bottom three of the Premier League after battling out a tense 0-0 draw with Aston Villa at the Cardiff City Stadium.

The hosts had the better of the first half chances with Fraizer Campbell and Craig Noone both seeing efforts deflected onto the woodwork, while Wilfried Zaha had a goal ruled out for offside.

A stunning second-half save from David Marshall to palm away a deflected strike from Fabian Delph kept the scoreline level, as did a last-ditch block from Kevin Theophile-Catherine on Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Marshall then kept out Andreas Weimann in stoppage time with one of the saves of the season, acrobatically tipping over the bar to ensure that it ended a point apiece.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made four changes from the defeat to Swansea, with Theophile-Catherine, Noone, Jordon Mutch and Campbell all returning to the side, with Craig Bellamy starting the first of his three-game ban.

Meanwhile, Paul Lambert opted to make two changes from the side that lost to West Ham, with Ron Vlaar, Marc Albrighton and Joe Bennett stepping in.

Having won just once in their last nine Premier League outings, the pressure was on the hosts to end their miserable run of form, but it was Villa who came closest in the opening stages as Delph saw his long-range strike fizz past Marshall's post.

Cardiff soon sprung into life though, hitting the woodwork twice in the space of a few seconds through Campbell and then Noone.

Having been fed in on goal by Zaha, Campbell was unable to beat Brad Guzan who blocked his effort onto the post, before Noone's attempt from range dipped onto the bar after Ashley Westwood's flying block.

The Bluebirds had a brief penalty appeal waved away as Jones went down under the challenge of Nathan Baker inside the area as pressure started to mount on the Villa goal.

Backed by a vociferous home crowd, Cardiff grew in confidence as they attacked a shaky looking Villa defence as Baker's skewed clearance forced Guzan and then Vlaar into action to shore things up under pressure from Campbell.

Cardiff did have the ball in the back of the net when Zaha fired past Guzan following Steven Caulker's header, but the linesman's flag correctly denied him a first Premier League goal.

Noone skied an effort after cutting inside before Villa had a flurry of crosses well dealt with at the opposite end as the sides went in level at the break.

Villa started the second half brightly with Albrighton troubling Cardiff down the right, but it was Solskjaer's men who had the first real sight of goal after the break as Campbell got the better of Vlaar before dragging his shot well wide.

The best move of the match came on the hour mark as Villa split open the Cardiff defence as Leandro Bacuna, storming forward from full-back, exchanged passes with Agbonlahor before indecisively firing wide when Benteke was lurking for the tap-in.

Lambert's side were enjoying the better of the chances and it almost fell for Agbonlahor in front of goal, but Villa were issued a warning of the hosts' capabilities on the counter attack when Jones headed Theophile-Catherine's cross straight at Guzan.

Villa introduced Weimann as the search for that elusive opening goal continued and he was immediately involved, teeing up Albrighton who volleyed straight at Marshall.

Marshall has been the hero on countless occasions this season and that was the case when he pulled off a wonderful one-handed save to keep out Delph's deflected effort, before Vlaar hooked the resulting corner over the bar.

Agbonlahor was then guilty of taking too much time in front of goal as an excellent block from Theophile-Catherine prevented him from getting a shot away after Benteke had found him.

The Cardiff goalkeeper then managed to better himself in the final minute of stoppage time, superbly adjusting to tip over Weimann's close-range effort and earn his side a point.