A superb curling shot from Pablo Hernandez sealed a 2-0 away win for Leeds United at Cardiff as they made it back to back wins for the first time in the Championship under Garry Monk.
Chris Wood fired the Whites ahead with a spot kick just after the hour mark and United were deserved winners, although they had some fortune in the opening half when Cardiff hit the woodwork twice.
Leeds came under heavy pressure in the first 45 minutes, but coped well with Pontus Jansson having another outstanding game alongside stand-in captain Kyle Bartley.
Goalkeeper Rob Green also gave his most commanding display in a Leeds shirt and the clean sheet pleased head coach Garry Monk. It said it all that despite the pressure Cardiff had only three efforts on target all game.
United were relieved early on when Sean Morrison got above Bartley to get his head to a corner and the ball crashed against the post with Green saving well from the rebound.
At the other end, Stuart Dallas got away from his marker only to hit a weak shot that was easily saved by home keeper Ben Amos.
Hernandez then seized on a loose pass by Matthew Connolly, but saw his shot tipped wide by Amos.
The Cardiff stopper made another save just past the half-hour after a good move had seen Hadi Sacko and Hernandez combine well to give Wood space to shoot just inside the box.
Sacko got onto a ball in the box and produced a fine pull back, but Amos saved at Dallas’s feet to end the danger.
Cardiff hit the post a second time just before half-time when Aron Gunnarsson’s low shot from the edge of the box somehow got through a crowded box only to come back off the woodwork. But it remained goalless up to the break.
The second half started slowly before Leeds got the break they needed. A minute after Bartley appeared to have been pulled down in the area from a corner a penalty did come from the next corner as Connolly was all over Jansson, wrestling him to the ground.
Wood stepped up to take the spot kick and send the keeper the wrong way to open the scoring.
Cardiff looked to hit back, but after Wood came close to putting the ball in his own net Green saved Morrison’s header from yet another corner.
Leeds played out the closing 20 minutes well, however, and could have added to their lead when Wood raced onto Luke Ayling’s ball over the top, but he took too long to get his shot away and Connolly got back to make a saving tackle.
Sub Kemar Roofe shot well over from distance and a good chance was squandered as Hernandez broke clear on a great 40-yard run only to shoot straight to Amos when the better option looked to have been to have slipped the unmarked Wood in. Bartley then headed just wide from a corner.
When Hernandez had another chance to run at the Cardiff defence he made no mistake with a terrific curling shot into the top corner of the net from the edge of the area to make it 2-0.
Cardiff rarely threatened any comeback with their only effort of note late on being a Rickie Lambert weak header that was easily gathered by Green.
Leeds boss Monk was obviously delighted with the win and the performance.
He said: “It’s been a very good week and it was another step forward today, another good result.
“It’s back to back wins, a clean sheet, four goals in the last two games and we’ve shown a lot of improvement.
“There was a lot of hard work and showed great determination. We were clinical when we needed to be and we defended very well.
“We gave away a lot of set pieces in the opening 25 minutes, but we defended them excellently. We looked solid.”
Monk had no doubts that his side should have been awarded the spot kick that gave them the lead.
He added: “It was a clear penalty and I thought there was one just before that in a similar incident. I didn’t think it dictated the game.
“Of course it gave us the goal, but I think we looked the most likely to score in the second half and we had some good chances.”
Cardiff City 0
Leeds United 2
(Wood 62, penalty, Hernandez 83)
Saturday, September 17
Cardiff: Amos, Peltier, Morrison, Connolly (Guonongbe 84), Richards, Gunnarsson, Ralls (Harris 70), Noone, Whittingham, Pilkington (Immers 89), Lambert.
Leeds: Green, Ayling, Jansson, Bartley, Taylor, Vieira, O’Kane, Hernandez (Phillips 89), Dallas (Roofe 71), Sacko, Wood (Antonsson 90+1).
Referee: Graham Scott.