Reading 1-2 Cardiff
Cardiff City kept up the pressure on the Championship's top three with a hard-working triumph at Reading.
Peter Whittingham's sublime 35-yard chip beat Reading keeper Adam Federici to give Cardiff a second-minute lead.
Reading's Jimmy Kebe had a goal ruled out for offside before captain Mark Hudson nudged in Cardiff's second from Whittingham's driven free-kick.
Kebe's close-range header gave Reading hope but fourth-placed Cardiff held on for their third successive win.
Reading manager Brian McDermott will be slightly concerned about his side's stuttering form as they have won only once in their last six games.
But playmaker Whittingham was the architect as the Bluebirds took revenge on Reading for last season's play-off semi-final defeat.
The former England Under-21 international set the tone with a stunning seventh goal of the season inside the opening two minutes before his sixth assist this term set up Hudson's clincher.
In-form Cardiff could have opened the scoring sooner when Craig Conway stung the hands of Federici with a fierce long-range drive.
But Whittingham took a different approach when Reading failed to clear as his beautiful first-time effort flew over a stranded Federici to give Cardiff the lead for an unparalleled 13th time this season.
Whittingham is one of only two surviving members of Cardiff's team from last season's play-off disappointment, such was manager Malky Mackay's rebuilding job following Dave Jones' departure.
Reading rallied and had two penalty appeals rejected by referee Darren Sheldrake before Noel Hunt's effort was deflected wide for a corner by Cardiff centre-back Ben Turner.
Hunt continued to be the hosts' biggest threat as the Irish striker had a shot saved by Cardiff keeper David Marshall and then went close with a header from Jobi McAnuff's corner.
Reading thought they had levelled 10 minutes into the second half when Kebe ghosted in at the back post to tap home McAnuff's floated cross, but the assistant referee's flag cut the celebrations short.
The Royals dominated the initial stages of the second period and Cardiff had recalled keeper Marshall to thank for remaining ahead as Jem Karacan's run and shot was pushed wide by the Scotland international.
And the visitors made Reading pay for wasting chances as Whittingham's superb free-kick found the unmarked Hudson at the near post and the centre-back guided his shot past Federici.
Kebe's late consolation from Karacan's cross was too little too late for Reading who slumped to their first home defeat since 10 September.