Cardiff City 3, Norwich City 1
Norwich City returned empty-handed from south Wales after conceding two early goals on their first visit to Cardiff City Stadium.
The Canaries were up against it within 12 minutes, but while they pulled one back, a controversial penalty decision gave the hosts a two-goal cushion they never relinquished.
City boss Paul Lambert recalled Wes Hoolahan and Korey Smith, with Anthony McNamee and David Fox dropping to the bench.
City keeper John Ruddy was forced to turn a Jay Bothroyd screamer around his left post on five minutes, but Cardiff were ahead on nine minutes – and City have only themselves to blame.
Peter Whittingham's corner from the right was headed goalwards by Gabor Gyepes and Bothroyd jumped higher than Russell Martin to head home – the same routine the hosts had used just minutes earlier without quite the same success.
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Michael Chopra doubled their lead on 12 minutes, latching on to Bothroyd's flicked header and then slipping the ball under the advancing Ruddy.
It left City with a mountain to climb, but they responded well, pinning Cardiff back in their own half for long spells.
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Simeon Jackson was nicely set up by Grant Holt, who had already had a goal disallowed for a push, but his volley from six yards towards a goal guarded only by one man, gave Heaton the opportunity to make a reasonably routine save.
Hoolahan was showing all the signs of a man revitalised: his quick feet left a couple of men rather larger than himself sticking their boots out at thin air.
The little midfielder drove three-quarters of the length of the pitch after Bothroyd's sloppy pass before seeing a long-range shot panned away by keeper Tom Heaton.
City camped around the Cardiff area, with Andrew Crofts and Korey Smith picking up a lot of loose balls as the hosts failed to clear their lines, inviting just more attacks.
On 35 minutes City were back in it, Hoolahan diving in to head home Steve Smith's cross from the left, leaving the goalscorer needing treatment for a nasty looking nose injury.
The joy was short-lived: Bothroyd swung in a cross from the right, Barnett headed it away and the ball hit Elliott Ward who was adjudged to have handled in the area – and Whittingham stepped up to stroke it home from 12 yards and make it 3-1.
City struggled to regain their momentum before half-time, when Cardiff regrouped, had a little think about what to do next, and decided the best option was to contain the visitors. Which they did well. HALF-TIME: Cardiff City 3, Norwich City 1
Craig Bellamy showed more after the break, having been unable to really give Russell Martin a rough ride, while on the other flank Steve Smith's first-half booking was being exploited by Chris Burke, who began to run directly at the City left-back.
Ruddy had to save well to prevent Chopra getting a second with a volley early in the second half.
City made a double change on 62 minutes, Chris Martin and McNamee on for Jackson and Simon Lappin respectively.
Bothroyd saw a terrific strike come back off the underside of the bar on 72 minutes, which would have put the game well and truly beyond Norwich's reach, and then saw Ruddy deny him late on with a fine save to his right.
The Canaries had few chances after the break as Cardiff looked increasingly better value for the scoreline.
After the game Norwich City boss Paul Lambert told reporters: 'You can't give somebody a two-goal start, let alone a team that's going great at the minute but I thought we were excellent the way we came back and never capitulated or anything like that - but that could easily have been done the way Cardiff have been playing.
'I felt we played really well the first half - we had a lot of the ball and caused them a lot of problems and on another day we might have got a couple more.' RESULT: Cardiff City 3, Norwich City 1