Penalty drama keeps Cardiff in trouble

London: Cardiff remain deep in relegation trouble despite Peter Whittingham`s penalty equaliser in Saturday`s 1-1 Premier League draw against Stoke.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer`s team fell behind in controversial circumstances at the Cardiff City Stadium when referee Howard Webb gave Stoke a dubious penalty which Austrian striker Marko Arnautovic converted.

The Bluebirds drew level with a penalty of their own in the second half as Whittingham fired home from the spot.

But Cardiff couldn`t find a winner leaving them third from bottom and two points from safety with only three games remaining.

Cardiff manager Solskjaer had included Aron Gunnarsson among his substitutes despite reports linking the Iceland international with an alleged leak of team information to Crystal Palace before a league game between the clubs earlier this month.

But Gunnarsson, who has denied any wrongdoing in the matter, didn`t come on, leaving the officials to take the spotlight instead.

Cardiff made a bright start and Mats Daehli teed up Jordon Mutch, who should have done better than shoot straight at Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic from close-range.

It took a piece of brilliant defending from Stoke`s Ryan Shawcross to deflect Fraizer Campbell`s shot away for a corner as the hosts pressed again.

But Stoke almost took the lead on the counter-attack through former Cardiff striker Peter Odemwingie when the Nigerian international surged away before forcing Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall into a fine save from the edge of the area.

Mark Hughes` team were indebted to Begovic just before half-time as the Bosnian raced off his line to clear before Campbell could pull the trigger and moments later produced a fine save to push Whittingham`s free-kick onto a post.

And Stoke took advantage of those escapes to snatch the lead in first half stoppage-time.

Odemwingie went easily down under the slightest of challenges from South Korea midfielder Kim Bo-Kyung and Webb awarded the penalty, with Arnautovic stepping up to convert from the spot to mark his 25th birthday.

It was a debatable decision and Cardiff were furious, but they got a spot-kick of their own six minutes after half-time.

Steven Nzonzi tripped Campbell, Webb gave the penalty and Whittingham drove his strike down the middle to restore parity.

Juan Cala thought he had completed Cardiff`s fightback moments later, but Webb and his officials were back in the thick of the action as the effort was correctly ruled out for offside.

Begovic made a great save from Steven Caulker`s shot and the Cardiff centre-back then hit the post from the rebound, with the ball bouncing up for Cala to head in from close range, but the hosts` celebrations were premature because the Spanish defender was in an offside position.