Cardiff took over at the top of the npower Championship thanks to a 4-2 win at Scunthorpe as previous leaders QPR were held to a goalless draw at Nottingham Forest.
The Bluebirds had been winless in the last two games but leading scorer Jay Bothroyd gave them the perfect start in the second minute when he was left with a simple tap-in after Michael Chopra's close-range strike had been parried by Joe Murphy.
Bothroyd then turned provider as his cross found Chopra and the former Newcastle man finished from close range seven minutes later.
Craig Bellamy's left-wing free-kick was met by Bothroyd, who grabbed his 15th goal of the season by heading past Murphy in the 34th minute, although Kevin McDonald grabbed one back for the Iron on the stroke of half-time with a 20-yard strike.
Dany N'Guessan added a second for the home side on 73 minutes but Seyi Olofinjana made sure for Cardiff with a fourth goal 11 minutes from time.
Despite dominating possession QPR failed to break the deadlock, although Forest keeper Lee Camp had to make good saves from Hogan Ephraim and Adel Taarabt.
Fourth-placed Derby lost more ground on the leaders after going down 2-0 in the east Midlands derby at Leicester.
Andy King latched on to Richie Wellens' through-ball and expertly placed the ball into the net to give Derby the lead and Steve Howard doubled their tally with a penalty on 71 minutes.
Luciano Becchio grabbed a second-half hat-trick to help Leeds into the play-off places with a 3-1 win over Bristol City at Elland Road.
It was goalless at the break but the game burst into life with three goals in seven minutes. Becchio opened the scoring on 66 minutes but former Blackburn striker Jonathan Stead equalised two minutes later. Becchio then struck again on 70 and completed his hat-trick seven minutes from the end.
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