Cardiff's Ross McCormack cheers his late equaliser as Gary Monk despairs
Ross McCormack rescued Cardiff City from the penalty spot in a thrilling south Wales derby with Swansea City.
Joe Allen seemed to have given Swansea victory two minutes from time with a snap-shot, but moments later McCormack went down in the box to earn a draw.
Nathan Dyer shot Swansea ahead after being put in by Jason Scotland only for Michael Chopra to level from close in.
But the game was marred when referee Mike Dean was hit by an object thrown from the crowd just before half-time.
The incident spoiled the action on the pitch, which was played in good spirit and was packed full of goal-mouth incident.
Cardiff boss Dave Jones had opted to start with three attackers, with McCormack - fresh from his midweek goal for Scotland - and Chopra flitting around big target man Jay Bothroyd.
Their visitors are never less than attack-minded under the charge of Roberto Martinez, and set up with plenty of width to feed front pair Scotland and Dyer.
The action settled swiftly into a pleasing pattern of cut-and-thrust in the spring sunshine of a south Wales Sunday morning, ramping the excitement level for both sets of fans who were in vigorous voice.
Jones hails battling Cardiff show
Swansea had an early penalty shout when Paul Parry tripped Jordi Gomez, but Dean turned away the protests.
The visitors were the first to fashion a shot at goal as Mark Gower cut in from his left wing, but he fired weakly at goalkeeper Stuart Taylor guarding his near post.
That early promise was turned into the opening goal on 11 minutes as Scotland and Dyer combined beautifully to put Swansea ahead.
Dyer, on loan from Southampton, raced in from the right and played the ball into the feet of Scotland who had his back to goal.
The Trinidad and Tobago striker deftly clipped the ball over his shoulder, taking out three static Cardiff defenders, and Dyer raced through to fire left-footed under Taylor.
That set-back brought a fierce response from Cardiff, who came roaring back and had Swansea creaking.
Mark Kennedy played a neat one-two on the left to send Chopra into the Swans box and his low cross was only just cut out by Ashley Williams.
It was not all one-way traffic and Gomez sent a left-foot volley dipping just over the Cardiff bar.
But Cardiff resumed their stranglehold and the chances came thick and fast, although without the end result the Bluebirds' play deserved.
First Parry jinked past three defenders but slipped as he shot, then put wide an even better chance when a McCormack free-kick was parried out to him.
The post then came to Swansea's rescue as Chopra turned on a sixpence and shot across keeper Dorus de Vries, who then had to plunge to his right as Bothroyd crashed the rebound goal-ward.
Another good chance came and went when Chopra nodded a deep cross into Joe Ledley's path, only for the Cardiff skipper's momentary hesitation to let Gary Monk get a toe in.
However, the action was soured by an incident just before half-time that saw referee Dean cut on the forehead by an object thrown from the Bob Bank stand, occupied by home fans.
To his credit Dean stoically carried on after treatment to staunch the blood, but his report to the Football Association of Wales will likely have repercussions for Cardiff City.
However, the club were able to identify the culprit almost immediately and have promised to ban Dean's assailant for life.
Referee Mike Dean receives treatment after being hit by an object thrown from the crowd
South Wales Police confirmed that a man has been arrested in connection with the incident.
Dyer almost doubled Swansea's lead soon after the restart, as Taylor could only parry a Gomez shot into the little striker's path.
But Kevin McNaughton did superbly to get back and scoop Dyer's clipped shot off the line.
The full-back's next involvement was equally crucial as he started the move that led to Cardiff's first equaliser.
The Scot outpaced Monk deep down the right wing and fed the supporting Parry behind him.
The winger lofted his cross into the back post and, as Swansea waited in vain for an offside flag that correctly never came, Bothroyd squared for Chopra to side-foot home from five yards.
Both sides went looking for a winner to boost their play-off chances but the better chances fell to the home side.
Bothroyd had a low, driven free-kick diverted just wide as the Swansea wall stood firm.
Then it took a superb save by De Vries to deny Ledley as he burst into the area, the Dutch stopper getting the faintest touch to divert the goal-bound shot past his right-hand post.
Swansea boss unhappy with penalty
Allen had arrived off the bench for the tiring Gower in the 66th minute and added fresh impetus to the Swansea attack.
And two minutes from the time the diminutive Wales Under-21 star seemed to have earned his club a famous win, when he picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area and lashed it past Taylor.
But in a frantic finale Cardiff played a hopeful ball high into the Swansea box and McCormack went tumbling under a challenge from Williams.
The strength of the challenge was questionable, although Williams did appear to catch the Cardiff striker with a forearm on McCormack's back.
Referee Dean pointed to the spot and McCormack picked himself up to send the Bluebirds fans into rapture.
The point does not damage Cardiff's promotion hopes too badly as they have games in hand.
But Swansea remain five points behind their Welsh rivals, who occupy the last play-off place that Martinez's side covet.
Dean had only needed to brandish one yellow card in an excellent display of control, booking Allen, but showed a straight red to unused Swansea substitute Tom Butler after the final whistle for dissent.
Cardiff manager Dave Jones:
"Two minutes to go it was a sloppy goal for us to give away, we were pressing to try and get the win and were caught with a sucker-punch.
"But fantastic character from the players, they never gave up and came away with something from the game.
"We deserved something and if we'd come away with nothing I would have been really down-hearted."
Swansea manager Roberto Martinez:
"If that's a penalty you're going to give six or seven penalties (in a game).
"Both players are trying to get into a good position and it's a very, very soft penalty.
"But disappointing because the result doesn't reflect the performance and to come here to Ninian Park is a big ask."
Taylor, McNaughton, Purse, Roger Johnson, Kennedy (Eddie Johnson 89), Parry (Whittingham 66), Ledley, McPhail, McCormack, Bothroyd, Chopra (Rae 81).
Subs Not Used: Heaton, Comminges.
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