Palace were too slick for Cardiff to handle, and so the Bluebirds will be playing Championship football next season.
Josh Murphy looks dejected as Cardiff fall through the Premier League trap door. Photograph: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans/Rex/Shutterstock Scott Murray
Stuart James was at the Cardiff City Stadium to see the home sides Premier League hopes slip away. Heres his report. Commiserations to the Bluebirds, and congratulations to Brighton & Hove Albion, who will be playing in the top division next year. Thanks for reading this MBM. Nighty night!
Its Cardiffs last home fixture of the season, so the players give a shy, subdued lap of honour. A small tear running down the cheek of Neil Etheridge. But the fans arent subdued. They know how difficult its been for Cardiff to compete in the Premier League, and they holler hosannas in honour of their team, who fought from the get-go to the very end. Its a celebration, not a wake. Bluebirds captain Sean Morrison says that hes immensely proud of our city and the boys and that the squad want Neil Warnock to stay for next years promotion push. We adore him.
A magnanimous Neil Warnock smiles and shakes Roy Hodgsons hand. Then he gives a brief but emotional interview to BT Sport, as the fans sing his name. They were better than us up front. We had our chances. We havent had the rub of the green. But youve heard this lot, fantastic, theyre unbelievable. Im proud of the lads, theyve tried hard. Weve showed our limitations, thats why we are where we are. But the clubs arrived again, its alive and kicking and thats the main thing. When we first came here, it was almost gone.
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The whistle goes, and Cardiff City are relegated. The home fans sing their hymns and arias. Crystal Palace are the saviours of their rivals Brighton & Hove Albion. Footballs funny like that.
Sean Morrison and Bruno Ecuele Manga of Cardiff City show a look of dejection. Photograph: Kieran McManus/BPI/REX/Shutterstock Updated at 7.28pm BST
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90 min +3: Cardiff cant get the ball. Always loved the Palace me! smiles pre-match patter merchant Simon Dobinson.
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On the stroke of the 90, Reid cuts in from the right and curls a delicious shot into the bottom right. Guaita, at full stretch, couldnt get a finger on it. A lovely strike, but its too little, too late.
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89 min: Mendez-Laing pulses down the right and lashes a shot towards the bottom right. Guaita tips the ball onto the right-hand post and out for a corner. The set piece doesnt come to much.
86 min: Mendez-Laing romps down the right, reaches the byline, and dinks a sensational cross to Hoilett, coming in from the left and on the edge of the six-yard box. Hoilett meets the ball on the half-volley and spoons it over the bar from close range. No, its not to be Cardiffs day.
Read more Ultimately, the gulf in class was too wide to bridge and, as Warnock admitted afterwards, this was one of those occasions that exposed their limitations. Palace, bristling with attacking intent, ruthlessly took advantage of some benign defending to continue their outstanding away form – 19 points on the road in 2019 – while at the other end Cardiffs profligacy in front of goal cost them dear.
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84 min: Thats Townsends last contribution tonight. Hes replaced by Kouyate, having been a constant thorn in Cardiffs side.
83 min: Zaha pushes the ball past Morrison and beats him in a footrace. He cant beat Peltier as well, though. But the ball breaks to Townsend, who arrows a shot towards the top right from distance. Etheridge does very well to gather.
81 min: Cardiff win a corner down the left. Hoilett takes. The ball ends up with Morrison out on the right. Morrison returns it to Hoilett, on the edge of the box on the left. He skelps a shot straight down Guaitas throat.
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80 min: Zaha makes good down the right. He curls to Sako at the far post. Sako contorts himself into a very strange shape and volleys clumsily wide. The flag goes up for offside, so it didnt really matter. Murphy comes on for Hoilett.
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79 min: Another long throw by Gunnarsson on the left. More head tennis. Palace clear. Cardiff need three goals in the last ten minutes if theyre to have any realistic chance of Premier League survival.
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78 min: A corner for Palace out on the left. McArthur meets it at the near post, and flicks it on. The ball loops over Etheridge and nearly nestles in the far corner. It flies out for a goal kick. Then Meyer comes on for Ayew.
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76 min: Gunnarsson throws in from the left. Morrison has the ball at his feet in the Palace box. He swivels and tees up Mendez-Laing, bombing in down the inside-right channel. Mendez-Laing shoots low and hard towards the bottom left. It deserves a goal, but McArthurs on the line to hook clear. Its just not Cardiffs day.
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75 min: A free kick for Cardiff just inside the Palace half, out on the left. Murphy plays it long for Morrison, who heads across the goal wonderfully. But theres nobody in blue taking a gamble, and Guaita can gather. Then another attack, as Mendez-Laing skitters down the left and wallops a low ball into the middle. Dann does extremely well to stick out a leg and block for a corner.
73 min: The Cardiff fans know the jig is up. Their team are going down. But the fans rise as one for a chorus of Theres Only One Neil Warnock. They know what a brilliant job hes done for the club. Its a lovely bittersweet moment.
Bobby Reid would get a goal late for Cardiff, but it wouldn’t be enough to keep them in the Premier League.
72 min: A free kick for Cardiff out on the right. Murphy swipes it to the far post. Morrison rises but can only send his header harmlessly wide left.
Cardiff are on the brink now. Townsend sashays in from the right. He thinks about shooting. Thinks about shooting. Thinks about shooting. Then eventually creams one towards the bottom-right corner. He beats Etheridge. The ball bounces off the bottom of the post, across the line and into the other corner. Consider: Murphys shot in the first minute hit that very same post, but bounced out. The small margins, huh.
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Warnock encourages his team to keep fight on. Photograph: Craig Brough/Action Images via Reuters Facebook Twitter 6.57pm BST 18:57
67 min: A free kick for Palace in the middle of the Cardiff half. Milivojevic has an ambitious dig. The ball pinballs out for a corner. Milivojevic takes that set piece too, but its easily cleared by Mendez-Laing.
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66 min: Its end to end now. Batshuayi dribbles at Morrison down the left, and nearly makes it into the box, but the Cardiff defender stands his ground well.
Batshuayi finishes off an excellent team goal! (Video via @GoalsPLmedia)?? #CPFC pic.twitter.com/LAwC2RawfH
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65 min: Reid splits the Palace defence with a fine ball down the inside-right channel. Zohores clear! He only needs to carefully round Guaita and hell be walking that in. But he opts to slide the ball under the keeper instead. Its half saved, and the loose balls put out for a corner by Kelly. The set piece leads to nothing. Cardiff should be on terms.
63 min: Good work by Mendez-Laing down the left, sent on a dribble by Reid. He cuts back for Murphy, who opens his body and shapes a shot towards the bottom right. It looks to have beaten Guaita, but Kelly makes himself big and blocks. What a stop! That plenty makes up for the own goal.
61 min: Wan-Bissaka crosses deep from the right. Zaha chests down at the far post, but hes bugged by Peltier and cant get a shot away. Eventually the ball squeaks through to Etheridge. Cardiff constantly on the brink of conceding the third goal that would surely condemn them.
60 min: Cardiff make their second change of the match, their first by choice. Zohore comes on for Ward.
59 min: A long ball down the middle. Kelly dallies and nearly lets Ward in, but just about manages to shepherd the ball back to Guaita.
57 min: Palace push Cardiff back. Ayew has a shot from a tight angle on the right. Zaha dribbles down the left. Townsend takes a dig from 20 yards. Nothing quite comes off, but Cardiff look extremely vulnerable whenever Palace run at them.
55 min: Space for Mendez-Laing down the right. He performs a glorious stepover to swan past Ward, then sends a long cross towards Murphy at the far post. The ball drops perfectly, but Murphy snatches at the shot, dragging it wide left from six yards. What a cross that was, and what a chance to haul Cardiff back into this match.
53 min: After their fast start to the second half, Cardiffs momentum has stalled a little. Their fans do their best to whip them into action with songs of defiance.
51 min: Palaces Ward makes off down the left at speed. He pulls a low ball into the centre for Batshuayi, who swipes a first-time shot over the bar from the edge of the box. A very loose feel to this game now, with Cardiff obliged to pile forward. This isnt going to end 1-2, is it.
49 min: Cardiff have come out for this second half on the front foot. Theyre getting to most of the loose balls first right now. And they win a free kick on the halfway line. Bennett launches it into the Palace box. Ward takes it down, swivels, and from the right of the D hits a rising shot. Its high and wide, but it gets the crowd going.
47 min: Murphy copped a sore one there, foul or not, and he requires a bit of treatment. Hes soon up again though.
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Here we go, then. Cardiffs membership of the Premier League is hanging by a thread. Theyve got 45 minutes to find the one goal that will mathematically keep them in with a shout of survival, and the two that would give them a realistic chance. Palace get the ball rolling again, and Murphy is soon chasing it down the Cardiff left. Wan-Bissaka comes sliding in. He gets the ball and hooks it away. Murphy goes down, caught on the follow-through, but theres nothing wrong with the challenge. Not that youll get agreement with the Cardiff fans on that.
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Palace are doing their arch-rivals Brighton & Hove Albion a big favour here. Unless Cardiff can find a goal in the second half, theyll be playing Championship football next season.
45 min +4: Zaha dribbles down the left and torments Peltier. Eventually he lays off to Milivojevic, whose shot from 2o yards is blocked.
45 min +2: After mopping up a long, lame Manga free kick, Palace stream upfield on a dangerous counter once again. Batshuayi, Zaha and Townsend all take turns to look for space to shoot; Ayew eventually does, to little effect.
45 min: Batshuayi clattered into Etheridge during that Palace break. Hes down receiving treatment. And now hes back up. There will be four minutes tacked onto the end of this very lop-sided half of football.
43 min: This game was dismal for 27 minutes; its brilliant fun now! Cardiff win a corner down the left. Manga wins a header thats tipped over by Guaita. Then a corner on the right leads to a melee at the far post. Morrison cant quite get his header into the bottom left. Reid cant flick it in. Palace counter at speed, Zaha nearly bundling in from 12 yards only to be denied by Etheridge, Townsend lashing over from distance. What a wild and crazy 60 seconds!
41 min: Palace were this close to putting Cardiff in all sorts of bother. McArthur works his way down the right, dancing his way past Murphy. He pulls back for Zaha on the penalty spot. Zaha must score, but slams the ball straight at Ayew, his own man doing the defending Cardiff seemed incapable of.
Some good work from Zaha out on the left. The balls worked inside for Batshuayi on the edge of the box. Batshuayi executes a smart one-two with Ayew, and whips an unstoppable shot into the top right!
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38 min: Zaha glides in from the right and shapes to shoot. But instead he dinks a cute pass down the channel for Batshuayi, who seems a little surprised to be put in. Hes forced to turn back and is eventually robbed of possession. But no worries, because …