Peter Whittingham's superb second-half free-kick ensured Cardiff will defend a slender 1-0 lead in the Welsh capital on Wednesday night in the second leg of their Coca-Cola Championship play-off semi-final against Leicester.
Foxes keeper Chris Weale was caught out by the set-piece specialist in the 78th minute as Whittingham whipped a left-footed shot inside the near post from out on the right-hand side.
Leicester created little until the closing stages. Their best opportunity fell to substitute Matty Fryatt but keeper David Marshall stood up to block his shot when one-on-one with the striker. Marshall then produced a superb reaction save deep into injury time to claw away Alex Bruce's header to edge Cardiff closer to a return to the top flight for the first time in 50 years.
The Bluebirds first chance came after 10 minutes. Jay Bothroyd brought down a long clearance from Marshall midway inside the Leicester half before turning and advancing towards goal. His left-footed shot from the edge of the area rolled just wide of the post with Weale beaten.
Midway through the half Bothroyd made a surging run before releasing strike partner Michael Chopra but he pulled his shot wide.
Five minutes before the break Cardiff came close once more when Joe Ledley put Chris Burke clear down the right-hand side. Chopra got across his marker at the near post but could only flick Burke's low centre against the woodwork from close range.
The visitors carried their goal threat in to the second half and Bothroyd powered a header over the crossbar from Kevin McNaughton's cross.
It was not until the 53rd minute that Leicester produced their first noteworthy effort on goal as Richie Wellens' driven, low shot from 25 yards flew narrowly wide.
Whittingham's excellent strike put Cardiff ahead before Fryatt went clear in the 83rd minute. McNaughton got back to make a challenge but the ball broke to Fryatt again only for Marshall to make the save.
Paul Gallacher curled a shot wide as Leicester searched for an equaliser. It looked like they had got it at the death but Marshall's heroics to thwart Bruce preserved Cardiff's lead.
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