Cardiff boss amazed by midfielder

Peter Whittingham
Cardiff midfielder Peter Whittingham netted three against Wolves. Photo: PA

Cardiff manager Malky Mackay hailed the contribution of Peter Whittingham after the playmaker notched a hat-trick in a 3-1 Championship defeat of Wolves.

Whittingham scored twice in the first half to overturn Bakary Sako's early free-kick before sealing the win with an excellent set-piece of his own from 30 yards.

But Mackay, who has turned down transfer bids from Fulham and West Brom for the Bluebirds midfielder, believes the 27-year-old can still improve.

Mackay said: "Whitts' overall performance is one of the reasons why he is central to what we want to do at this club.

"His overall game from central midfield is why I think he could play in the Premier League.

"It pleases me that we have turned down two aggressive bids from Premier League clubs.

"But he knows where this club wants to go and he is keen to play his part in that and I'm delighted he has signed an extended contract.

"Whitts could be even better if he wants to be. He can still improve. He has added more to his game than when he was a luxury player when I was planning teams to play against him."

Stale Solbakken's Wolves drew first blood in a thrilling contest.

Sako stunned the home crowd with a free-kick from 25 yards that flew inside David Marshall's near post following Whittingham's foul on Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.

Yet Cardiff, without the injured Craig Bellamy, responded with Whittingham's leveller from the penalty spot a minute later.

Craig Noone jinked down the left and was upended by Ronald Zubar inside the box, allowing Whittingham to step up and atone for his earlier error by beating Carl Ikeme down the middle.

The Wolves keeper was beaten once again by Whittingham on 14 minutes as the home side surged into the lead.

Mark Hudson's clearance was collected by Nicky Maynard down the right flank, the new £2.75million striker from West Ham seeing his squared pass dummied by Jordon Mutch, before Whittingham latched onto the loose ball to slam past Ikeme from 20 yards.

And after Noone was tripped by Tonga Doumbia in the 65th minute, there was nothing Ikeme could do when Whittingham struck an inch-perfect 30-yarder into the top corner.

Solbakken said: "We talked long and hard about not conceding stupid free-kicks or penalties and we made stupid errors at important times in the game.

"We were 1-0 up and we didn't give ourselves the chance to hold onto our lead.

"I'm very disappointed at our stupid mistakes which cost us goals.

"Everyone can beat everyone in this division but we've lost quality players in the transfer window. Our new players will take time to bed into the side."