Leeds United 0-4 Cardiff City: Report
Jay Bothroyd fired a double as Cardiff served warning this could finally be their year for promotion by routing npower Championship rivals Leeds 4-0 in their own backyard.
The Welshmen, beaten play-off finalists last season and so often in the thick of the promotion race in recent years, moved level on points with leaders QPR by securing a fourth consecutive league win thanks to Bothroyd's 10th and 11th goals of the season and further strikes from Michael Chopra and Lee Naylor.
Bothroyd was fortunate not to receive a straight red card for his studs-up challenge on Luciano Becchio in the first half, but he now has four goals in as many games as Cardiff registered a fifth-straight win over Leeds, who have lost their last three league games at Elland Road.
Kasper Schmeichel made his long-awaited return for Leeds following a foot injury, Alex Bruce returned to central defence and Bradley Johnson was also back in the starting line-up, while Cardiff were unchanged.
Bruce headed the game's first effort on goal over the crossbar from Robert Snodgrass's 12th-minute corner and his skipper Jonny Howson thundered a right-footed shot from outside the penalty area wide.
Cardiff responded in the 20th minute when Seyi Olofinjana's daisy-cutter was easily gathered by Schmeichel, but the Leeds goalkeeper was not so assured two minutes later.
Cardiff goalkeeper Tim Heaton's long punt sailed deep into Leeds territory and when Bruce opted to let the ball bounce on to the edge of the area, the on-rushing Schmeichel failed to gather and Bothroyd pounced to roll the ball into an unguarded net.
Becchio shot tamely at Heaton and Leeds, driven on by Howson and Johnson's surges into the area, battled gamely to fashion an opening.
Johnson blazed wide after a decent spell of possession for the home side just before the break and struck one over from further out soon after, but Cardiff, rapier-like on the counter-attack, had shots blocked and saved respectively from Bothroyd and Bellamy and continued to cause panic in the home ranks up until the break.
Leeds defender George McCartney cleared a header from Gabor Gyepes off the goal-line two minutes after the restart, while Heaton tipped over a free-kick from Snodgrass at the other end.
But Leeds found themselves with a mountain to climb when Cardiff added a controversial second goal in the 52nd minute.
Davide Somma was robbed 10 yards inside Cardiff's half and when Mark Hudson clipped a long ball into Chopra's path, the visiting striker appeared offside before racing on to bury a shot beyond Schmeichel and inside the far post.
Cardiff put the game beyond Leeds in the 56th minute. Bothroyd combined with Bellamy and Burke before taking a return pass from the latter in the area and planting a firm finish into the centre of the net.
The Welshmen made it four on the hour mark when Schmeichel was left motionless as Naylor fired in a speculative shot from 25 yards that crashed inside the home goalkeeper's right-hand post to leave Leeds staring at a rout.
Leeds debutant Ramon Nunez, a 54th-minute replacement for Somma, thumped a 30-yard shot just over the crossbar and Becchio had a headed goal ruled out for offside, but otherwise Grayson's side had little else to offer against their high-flying visitors.
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