Leeds United lost top spot in the Sky Bet championship after a disastrous first half left them with a mountain to climb on their trip to Cardiff City.
Thomas Christiansen’s men had plenty of possession in the opening 45 minutes, but did nothing with it and found themselves two down at the break and down to 10 men after the reckless sending off of skipper Liam Cooper.
Despite being a man short they did improve substantially in the second half and got a goal back through Kemar Roofe’s deflected shot, but the damage had already been done and they lost 3-1 to Neil Warnock’s side.
A quiet start saw little happen in the opening 20 minutes with Ezgjan Alioski hitting an angled 20-yard shot wide for Leeds and Joe Bennett seeing a snap shot deflected over by Stuart Dallas.
The first effort on target brought a goal for Cardiff when Mateusz Klich, on his first league start for the Whites, lost possession tamely on half-way and Loic Damour fed Junior Hoilett who easily rounded his marker before a low pull back gave Kenneth Zohore an easy tap-in.
Hoilett himself made it two nine minutes later with a fine strike from 25 yards out and Leeds seemed intent on hitting the self destruct button.
Zohore came close to a second with a shot into the side netting and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing saw a shot deflected straight to keeper Felix Wiedwald.
In injury-time centre-back Cooper, having already been booked for a two-footed challenge, clattered into Mendez-Laing on the touchline and could have no complaints about getting a second yellow card.
Surprisingly United were the better side for a spell early in the second half and they had three efforts in seconds. First, Gaetano Berardi went through after getting forward from left-back only to hit his shot straight at advancing keeper Neil Etheridge. Then Alioski’s instant strike from outside the box was saved by Etheridge and when the ball was quickly played back in Dallas headed wide.
Another chance saw Roofe get in behind on an angled run, but his shot was comfortably saved by Etheridge.
Within a minute United were made to pay for the misses as a clever give and go by Hoilett led to a low ball in and Zohore put the ball in the net from close range. He looked to be just offside, but the goal was given and it was effectively all over.
The Whites did get a consolation as Roofe’s shot from the edge of the box was deflected in off Sean Morrison, but they could not create anything further in the last 25 minutes.
It was Cardiff who went closest to further goals as Mendez-Laing shot wide under pressure from Pontus Jansson and Wiedwald saved from Damour and Hoilett.
Cardiff City 3
(Zohore 28, 59, Hoilett 37)
Leeds United 1
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Sky Bet Championship
Cardiff: Etheridge, Peltier, Manga, Morrison, Bennett, Damour, Bamba (Halford 90), Bryson, Mendez-Laing (Feeney 85), Hoilett, Zohore (Ward 76).
Leeds: Wiedwald, Ayling, Jansson, Cooper (sent-off 45+2), Berardi, Alioski (Grot 62), Klich (Vieira 67), Phillips, Hernandez (Pennington 45), Dallas, Roofe.
Referee: Kevin Friend.