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Perfect day at Cardiff's new home

The Cardiff City stadium at its opening Championship game

By Peter Shuttleworth
At the new Cardiff City Stadium

Michael Chopra will go down in history as the first competitive goal-scorer at the Cardiff City Stadium, it is just he knew nothing about it.

The £4m summer signing celebrated the milestone league strike yet needed a detailed description from his team-mates as he deflected Peter Whittingham's tame 25-yard grass-cutter past a wrong-footed Joe Murphy.

Clearly the footballing gods were smiling on the proud hosts on this momentous occasion with a stroke of extreme good fortune, as Whittingham's 21st minute shot clipped Chopra's heel and transformed a party that Scunthorpe United should have pooped within 17 seconds.

The bumper Bluebirds faithful had descended on their new shrine hours before kick-off, not only to soak up the early season sunshine but to see it with their own eyes as seeing might just mean believing.

A generation of Cardiff fans have been reared on unfulfilled promises of a new home to replace their cherished but archaic Ninian Park.

Bothroyd and Chopra
Chopra's double had echoes of the first league match at Ninian Park

Yet despite financial worries and the inevitable pessimism around these parts, the day no Cardiff fan ever thought would happen was here - and the supporters, all 22,264 of them, wanted to bask in this dawn of a new era.

Scunthorpe were not the most glamorous of guests for this Championship first but Cardiff's biggest opening day gate for 38 years is proof that if you build it, they will come.

And, although tougher tests will visit, come back they should as this dominant 4-0 victory was more emphatic than it looked.

Cardiff hit the woodwork twice in a rout that went some way to laying to rest any ghosts following last season's failed play-off push.

Yet it was Gary Hooper who looked set to be the uninvited guest when he skipped clear of the lacklustre home defence.

But the Scunny striker fluffed his lines and passed back to David Marshall rather than leaving the Cardiff keeper with no chance.

606: DEBATE
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The lack of wi-fi in the press box was not the only breakdown in communication at Cardiff's new £50m stadium as their team's new-look defence and new goalie were not on the same wavelength, as the hosts looked shaky and visitors ominous early on.

Cardiff's strikers, though, soon ensured the celebration would be one to enjoy and, like Ninian Park's farewell, not one to forget.

Supporters feared the infamous and intimidating Ninian Park roar - a trademark of their old cramped abode - would be lost in the move but inside 21 minutes of its competitive life the 26,000-capacity arena was able to showcase its ample acoustics.

As it was the deafening eruption of decibels that told Chopra it was him who had scored this landmark goal for Cardiff.

In a pleasant twist of symmetry Chopra emulated Arthur Cashmore, the first league goal-scorer at the old Ninian Park, by making his single a double when he smashed a fierce drive past Murphy, following a superb flick by Jay Bothroyd, just before half-time.

Cashmore, the former Bromsgrove Rovers and Manchester United forward, scored twice as Cardiff beat Stockport County 3-0 in Football League Division Two on 4th of September, 1920.

Cardiff's class of 2009 went one better as Bothroyd and a late Peter Whittingham penalty succumbed crestfallen Scunthorpe to a morale-crushing defeat.

As if a 4-0 win to christen to their new home was not pleasing enough, Cardiff currently sit top of the league.

That is what Bluebirds call a perfect day.



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see also
Cardiff 4-0 Scunthorpe
08 Aug 09 |  Championship
50m Cardiff City Stadium opens
22 Jul 09 |  Wales
Ten top Ninian Park memories
22 Apr 09 |  Cardiff
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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