Wolves 1-2 Cardiff
Cardiff City re-established a firm grip on the Championship title race as two Fraizer Campbell headers at Molineux opened an eight-point lead at the top.
Campbell's close-range header from a long throw set the league leaders on their way, and he rose again after the break for his fifth goal in five games.
Relegation-threatened Wolves responded with Bakary Sako's deflected free-kick.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake then wasted a late chance to snatch a draw when he missed a sitter from no more than five yards.
After coming off the bench, Wolves' 11-goal top scorer seemed certain to equalise 10 minutes from time after being set up by Sako, but the substitute's effort bounded over the bar.
Cardiff held out to extend their unbeaten run away from home to nine games, leaving Wolves still in the bottom three - and boss Dean Saunders still searching for his first victory after eight games in charge.
Cardiff can reflect on an efficient if unspectacular victory, capitalising on Hull's defeat by Bolton on Saturday to stretch clear at the summit once more.
The visitors' pressure had been building gradually when striker Campbell again showed the kind of scoring instinct that Mackay predicted he would add to the side.
Centre-back Ben Turner used his considerable frame to flick on Aron Gunnarsson's long throw and Campbell could hardly miss from four yards.
Cardiff were competent in possession, streets ahead of their hosts in terms of movement off the ball.
The eagerness all over the pitch to receive the ball perfectly illustrated the contrasting pressures on both sides - Cardiff keen to create in search of significant rewards, Wolves afraid to make a mistake in their battle for survival.
For all their passing ability, it was another Gunnarsson long throw that almost doubled the lead.
A defensive header reached the edge of the area where Don Cowie fired back towards goal. Craig Bellamy was quickest to react after Carl Ikeme's save, but the striker's celebrations were ended by an offside flag.
Wolves rallied, creating two inviting opportunities for Kevin Doyle. His first header lacked conviction and was deflected for a corner, the second straight at goalkeeper David Marshall.
Just as the home side looked to be gathering momentum, Cardiff doubled the lead on 67 minutes.
Bellamy delivered an inswinging cross from the left, and Campbell again rose unmarked to glance the ball home.
That looked game over but, having looked comfortable for so long, Cardiff had to dig deep in the final stages as a more attacking Wolves formation finally brought the home team to life.
Wolves took just three minutes to respond, when Sako's driven free-kick from the edge of area pierced the defensive wall and deflected past a stranded Marshall.
Sako then delivered a glorious chance for Ebanks-Blake to grab an equaliser after racing 80 yards down the left flank. But, with the goal at his mercy, his downward side-foot effort bounced over the bar.
Wolves manager Dean Saunders: "There were a lot of positives to take out of the game but we made two catastrophic mistakes.
"We conceded a goal from a long throw and to make matters worse I had walked the players through that before the game and shown them on the DVD.
"It was one of those goals that keeps you awake as a manager.
"Then we conceded from another mistake. Carl Ikeme will be the first to hold his hands up because nine times out of 10 he usually comes and catches that.
"But we managed to reply straight away and then Sylvan misses an open goal for two-all."
Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay: "It was never going to be easy here. I have never had an easy game at Wolves.
"They have players with Premier League quality and I was delighted with the way that we played and controlled the game to get our three points.
"We knew that Wolves would throw caution to the wind after half-time and they did and we handled that well.
"I was pleased with the way we saw the game out in the last 10 or 15 minutes."