Cardiff City settled a little of their promotion anxiety with an important win against strugglers Blackburn Rovers.
A well-drilled Cardiff corner allowed Fraizer Campbell space to send a stooping header into the Rovers net.
Although Blackburn rarely threatened, Morten Gamst Pedersen going closest, the slim lead had home nerves on edge.
But two goals in the final four minutes - Joe Mason turning two defenders to shoot home before Peter Whittingham converted a penalty - secured victory.
Cardiff had seen their lead at the top of the table trimmed to four points on Saturday after losing 2-1 at Peterborough, but had Wales striker Craig Bellamy back in the starting line-up.
Bluebirds manager Malky Mackay made four other changes to freshen up his side, including leaving midfielder Whittingham on the bench.
After Saturday's 1-1 draw with Blackpool, Blackburn caretaker boss Gary Bowyer juggled his resources by leaving £8m striker Jordan Rhodes plus former Cardiff target David Goodwillie on the bench.
BLUEBIRDS COME HOME TO ROOST
- Blackburn Rovers are now the seventh team that Cardiff City have beaten home and away this season, with Birmingham, Leeds, Millwall, Blackpool, Sheffield Wednesday and Wolves the others to fall
But relegation-threatened Rovers were boosted by the return of David Bentley from a knee injury to start in midfield alongside Danny Murphy, while Colin Kazim-Richards started in attack.
Cardiff began the day needing 14 points from their remaining eight games to clinch promotion to the Premier League, but had not won at the City Stadium since 16 February.
The home side set about their visitors with real purpose and an early chance came when Rovers goalkeeper Jake Kean flapped at a corner, but Campbell just failed to connect properly.
Leon Best did have the ball in the Cardiff net, but had strayed off-side just before being picked out superbly by Pedersen.
With that warning, Cardiff redoubled their efforts and Campbell spun to crash a half-volley off the Rovers bar before Jordan Mutch saw his shot clawed away by Kean.
The Blackburn keeper was soon in action again to deny Bellamy, who then saw his follow-up shot blocked on the line.
Rovers' resistance was finally broken five minutes before half-time when Campbell was left unmarked on the back post at a corner to send a low header into the net.
The visitors suffered another blow soon after the restart when keeper Kean had to be replaced by Grzegorz Sandomierski after going down in a heap.
Kim Bo-Kyung had been an impressive driving force from the Cardiff midfield and only a fine block by Murphy prevented the South Korean from doubling the home lead.
David Marshall had been largely untroubled in the Cardiff goal, but had to back-peddle sharply as Pedersen took a quick long-range free-kick.
However, Cardiff were soon threatening again - and Sandomierski had to get down smartly to push a Kim shot away before pulling off a fantastic reaction save to deny Ben Turner from eight yards.
Four minutes from time Cardiff at last claimed the cushion of a second goal their dominance warranted as Mason held his run before a jinking turn gave him space to shoot home.
With the three points safe, Whittingham gave the scoreline a glossy look from the penalty spot in injury time after Scott Dann had brought down the lively Mason.
The result leaves Blackburn in deep trouble, only above the relegation zone on goal difference, and facing a crucial game at rival strugglers Sheffield Wednesday on 6 April.
Cardiff, meanwhile, have re-established some welcome breathing space before Saturday's trip to third-placed Watford - although the Hornets must go to second-placed Hull City on Tuesday night.
Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay:
"I thought our team were exceptional today. Anyone that came to the stadium to watch us saw a fantastic performance.
"We were playing against a very experienced team - their front six were incredibly experienced - and we knew that if we didn't press them from the first minute we would allow them to show their qualities.
"We ended up with 18 shots on target in the first half before Fraizer got the goal, so I'm delighted to dominate the way we did, keep a clean sheet and eventually come out with the three goals."
Blackburn Rovers caretaker manager Gary Bowyer:
"The club were relegated from the Premier League last season so we know what it feels like. We don't want it to happen again this time.
"My overriding emotion is one of disappointment. We withstood an enormous amount of pressure in the first half, but I thought the first goal was a foul on the goalkeeper.
"We are not getting those decisions at the moment."
- 01 Marshall
- 03 Taylor
- 06 Turner
- 12 Connolly
- 25 Barnett
- 11 Conway
- 13 Kim Bo-Kyung
- 17 Gunnarsson
- 18 Mutch (Whittingham - 81' )
- 27 Campbell (Mason - 58' )
- 39 Bellamy (Gestede - 88' )
- 32 Lewis
- 07 Whittingham
- 08 Cowie
- 16 Noone
- 24 Lappin
- 15 Gestede
- 20 Mason
- 34 Kean Booked (Sandomierski - 53' )
- 16 Dann Booked
- 19 Kane
- 31 G Hanley
- 12 Pedersen
- 13 Murphy (Rhodes - 75' )
- 24 Morris
- 35 Bentley (Dunn - 62' )
- 36 Jones
- 09 Best Booked
- 39 Kazim-Richards Booked
- 29 Sandomierski
- 05 Givet
- 23 Rekik
- 08 Dunn
- 32 Stewart
- 11 Rhodes
- 25 Goodwillie
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee blows for the end of the match.90:00 +5:20 Goal scored
Goal! - Peter Whittingham - Cardiff 3 - 0 Blackburn Peter Whittingham scores a placed penalty. Cardiff 3-0 Blackburn.90:00 +4:28 Booking
Booking Booking for Scott Dann.90:00 +4:09
Scott Dann challenges Joe Mason unfairly and gives away a Penalty.90:00 +1:52
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Colin Kazim-Richards by Rudy Gestede. Free kick taken by Morten Gamst Pedersen.89:38
Shot from just outside the area by Colin Kazim-Richards goes over the bar.87:20 Substitution
Substitution Craig Bellamy goes off and Rudy Gestede comes on.85:59
Aron Gunnarsson provided the assist for the goal.85:59 Goal scored
Goal! - Joe Mason - Cardiff 2 - 0 Blackburn Joe Mason finds the back of the net with a goal from close range low into the middle of the goal. Cardiff 2-0 Blackburn.83:04
Ben Turner takes a shot. Grzegorz Sandomierski makes a save.82:13
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Craig Bellamy played to the near post, clearance by Scott Dann.80:33 Substitution
Substitution (Cardiff) makes a substitution, with Peter Whittingham coming on for Jordon Mutch.78:18 Booking
Booking Colin Kazim-Richards booked for unsporting behaviour.78:02
Colin Kazim-Richards concedes a free kick for a foul on Craig Conway. Andrew Taylor takes the direct free kick.76:29
Bo-Kyung Kim takes a shot. Save made by Grzegorz Sandomierski. Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Craig Bellamy from the left by-line, Grzegorz Sandomierski makes a save.76:16
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Bo-Kyung Kim by David Jones. Aron Gunnarsson takes the direct free kick.75:38
Effort from deep inside the area by Joe Mason clears the bar.73:36
Free kick crossed right-footed by Craig Bellamy, Colin Kazim-Richards makes a clearance.73:36 Substitution
Substitution Jordan Rhodes is brought on as a substitute for Danny Murphy.73:36
Unfair challenge on Ben Turner by David Jones results in a free kick.
Corner taken by Bo-Kyung Kim from the right by-line to the near post, Danny Murphy manages to make a clearance.68:03
Unfair challenge on Colin Kazim-Richards by Andrew Taylor results in a free kick. Morten Gamst Pedersen crosses the ball in from the free kick, save by David Marshall.66:17
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Matthew Connolly by Scott Dann. Direct free kick taken by David Marshall.65:12
Handball by Danny Murphy. Aron Gunnarsson restarts play with the free kick.62:55
The offside flag is raised against Joe Mason. Direct free kick taken by Danny Murphy. Foul by Aron Gunnarsson on Josh Morris, free kick awarded. Morten Gamst Pedersen takes the free kick.61:51
Leon Barnett challenges David Dunn unfairly and gives away a free kick. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Morten Gamst Pedersen from left channel.61:15 Substitution
Substitution David Dunn on for David Bentley.58:53
Corner taken right-footed by Craig Bellamy from the left by-line to the near post, Colin Kazim-Richards manages to make a clearance.58:24
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Bo-Kyung Kim from the right by-line to the near post, clearance made by David Jones.58:09
Bo-Kyung Kim takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Blocked by Danny Murphy.57:13 Substitution
Substitution (Cardiff) makes a substitution, with Joe Mason coming on for Fraizer Campbell.56:42
Corner taken left-footed by Bo-Kyung Kim to the near post, David Jones makes a clearance.55:40
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Josh Morris by Aron Gunnarsson. Direct free kick taken by Morten Gamst Pedersen.52:51 Substitution
Substitution (Blackburn) makes a substitution, with Grzegorz Sandomierski coming on for Jake Kean.45:26
Free kick awarded for a foul by Grant Hanley on Jordon Mutch. Free kick crossed by Bo-Kyung Kim, clearance made by Josh Morris.45:01
The referee gets the second half underway.45:00 +2:04 Half time
Half Time The half-time whistle blows.45:00 +0:55
Corner taken by Craig Bellamy.45:00 +0:46
Centre by Craig Bellamy.44:43
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Aron Gunnarsson by David Bentley. Free kick taken by Aron Gunnarsson.42:12
Unfair challenge on Todd Kane by Craig Bellamy results in a free kick. Jake Kean takes the free kick.40:30
Foul by Josh Morris on Matthew Connolly, free kick awarded. David Marshall restarts play with the free kick.39:51 Booking
Booking Jake Kean shown a yellow card.39:03
The assist for the goal came from Craig Bellamy.39:03 Goal scored
Goal! - Fraizer Campbell - Cardiff 1 - 0 Blackburn Fraizer Campbell finds the back of the net with a headed goal from close range. Cardiff 1-0 Blackburn.38:54
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Craig Bellamy from the left by-line,38:19
Craig Bellamy takes a shot. Save by Jake Kean. Craig Bellamy takes a shot. David Jones gets a block in.35:38
Fraizer Campbell takes a shot. Jordon Mutch takes a shot. Save by Jake Kean. Effort on goal by Matthew Connolly from just outside the area goes harmlessly over the target.34:22
Leon Best is caught offside. David Marshall takes the free kick.32:51
Aron Gunnarsson has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.32:07 Booking
Booking Leon Best is given a yellow card.31:21
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Aron Gunnarsson by Colin Kazim-Richards. Free kick taken by Leon Barnett.30:39
The referee blows for offside. David Marshall restarts play with the free kick.28:08
Craig Bellamy takes a shot. Scott Dann gets a block in.27:26
David Jones concedes a free kick for a foul on Craig Conway. Andrew Taylor takes the free kick.26:49
Craig Bellamy takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line to the near post, Scott Dann manages to make a clearance.26:36
The ball is delivered by Craig Conway.25:44
Bo-Kyung Kim gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on David Jones. Direct free kick taken by Josh Morris.22:31
Colin Kazim-Richards is ruled offside. Aron Gunnarsson takes the free kick.21:55
Foul by Colin Kazim-Richards on Craig Conway, free kick awarded. Craig Conway takes the free kick.19:32
Free kick awarded for a foul by Aron Gunnarsson on David Jones. Grant Hanley takes the direct free kick.15:41
Foul by Todd Kane on Andrew Taylor, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Craig Bellamy.15:03
Aron Gunnarsson takes a shot. Blocked by Grant Hanley.14:28
Colin Kazim-Richards gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Leon Barnett. Free kick taken by David Marshall.13:46
Jordon Mutch has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide right of the target.13:00
Craig Conway takes a shot. Scott Dann gets a block in.12:21
Inswinging corner taken by Bo-Kyung Kim, save by Jake Kean.11:42
Unfair challenge on Josh Morris by Jordon Mutch results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Josh Morris.10:25
Danny Murphy fouled by Craig Conway, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Todd Kane.7:18
Matthew Connolly takes a shot. Save by Jake Kean. Free kick awarded for a foul by Morten Gamst Pedersen on Bo-Kyung Kim. Craig Bellamy produces a strike on goal direct from the free kick, save by Jake Kean.6:04
Inswinging corner taken by Craig Bellamy from the left by-line, Grant Hanley manages to make a clearance. Corner taken by Bo-Kyung Kim from the right by-line.4:58
Craig Bellamy fouled by Josh Morris, the ref awards a free kick. Leon Barnett restarts play with the free kick.4:07
Craig Conway takes a shot. David Jones gets a block in.2:47
Shot from long distance by David Bentley goes over the bar.1:01
Unfair challenge on Aron Gunnarsson by Morten Gamst Pedersen results in a free kick. Craig Bellamy takes the free kick, Leon Barnett takes a shot. Save by Jake Kean.0:00
The match begins.
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