Two second-half goals from Wales midfielder Andy King gave Paulo Sousa his first league win as Leicester boss.
Cardiff took the lead when Jason Koumas freed Lee Naylor wide on the left, his fortuitous 40-yard strike catching Foxes keeper Carl Ikeme off his line.
But the Cardiff defence failed to track King who ghosted in to meet Richie Wellens' cross with a neat header.
Wellens again provided as King clipped in a right-footed shot inside the area to inflict Cardiff's first defeat.
The high-flying Bluebirds - without the injured Craig Bellamy, Jay Bothroyd, Michael Chopra and Seyi Olofinjana - lost their record as the only side in the league with a 100% return away from home this season and were denied a share of top spot in the Championship.
That was some measure of revenge for the Foxes, who agonisingly lost to Cardiff in last season's play-off semi-final.
With both sides fielding a solitary central striker, it was Cardiff who won the midfield battle in the opening exchanges.
Koumas had the first effort, but his low shot lacked power and was easily held by Ikeme.
Both sides were trying to play football and it was the visitors who went ahead in spectacular fashion in the 26th minute.
Koumas cushioned a fabulous first-time pass out wide and the overlapping Naylor took one touch before thrashing the ball over Ikeme's head and into the top corner.
Lee Naylor scores a stunning first-half goal for Cardiff at the Walkers Stadium
The former Celtic full-back was mobbed by his team-mates and may claim it was deliberate, but his effort was surely a mishit cross.
Either way the goal injected life into the Bluebirds and Koumas threatened again with another long-range strike before Peter Whittingham's delightful flick teed up Andy Keogh for a curler into Ikeme's arms.
A Martyn Waghorn corner almost delivered an equaliser when Michael Morrison headed across goal and Steve Howard flicked on, only to see Cardiff captain Mark Hudson stretch to head clear.
After the interval Waghorn shot wide from the edge of the area after another direct run.
Moments later, Sousa's side were rewarded for their bright start when King headed the 51st-minute equaliser.
Waghorn was again involved on the right and when he recycled play inside to Wellens the former Blackpool man delivered a teasing cross which King stormed on to to plant a powerful header past David Marshall and into the roof of the net.
Leicester were on top and took a deserved lead in the 68th minute thanks to another excellent King goal.
Again Wellens was the architect and when he found space on the corner of the area he quickly squared the ball to Lloyd Dyer.
The winger cleverly ran over the ball to allow the arriving King to sweep a shot over Marshall's head from the edge of the area.
Dyer then wasted a golden chance when Marshall fluffed a kick straight at his feet but the winger could only hit the post from 10 yards.
Japanese midfielder Yuki Abe made his debut late on as the Foxes saw out an important win.
"I am very happy and we have deserved this win before so it is nice to get under way," said a relieved Sousa. "I feel the team is closer to my personality now.
"During the international break the players' approach changed. They started to understand what approach we needed and the spirit and attitude."
Cardiff boss Dave Jones said: "We got ourselves into a winning position and the frustrating thing is we had spoken about the boy King breaking into the box.
"Maybe it was a bit of fatigue but we got caught out. They were the better team in the second half so I can't complain."
Live text and stats
Tuesday, 14 September 2010
10 King (Abi 82)
14 Waghorn (Gallagher 85)
05 Miguel Vitor,
10 McPhail (Blake 69 yellow card)
19 Koumas (Wildig 60)
Ref: EvansAtt: 20,510
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
90:00+5:18 The match has reached full-time.
90:00+4:51 Booking The referee cautions Darcy Blake for dissent.
90:00+4:16 Yuki Abe produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty area that goes harmlessly over the target.
90:00+2:37 Lloyd Dyer fouled by Lee Naylor, the ref awards a free kick. Direct strike on goal from the free kick comes in from Lloyd
90:00+2:16 Kevin McNaughton delivers the ball, clearance made by Jack Hobbs.
90:00+0:48 Robbie Neilson produces a cross, clearance made by Aaron Wildig.
90:00+0:13 Yuki Abe concedes a free kick for a foul on Gabor Gyepes. Free kick taken by David Marshall.
89:17 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Matt Oakley by Aaron Wildig. Carl Ikeme restarts play with the free kick.
85:24 Shot on goal by Chris Burke from just inside the area goes over the target.
84:12 Lee Naylor restarts play with the free kick.
84:12 Substitution Paul Gallagher comes on in place of Martyn Waghorn.
84:12 Free kick awarded for a foul by Lloyd Dyer on Lee Naylor.
82:16 Effort from the edge of the area by Martyn Waghorn goes wide of the left-hand upright.
80:46 Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Richie Wellens, free kick awarded for a foul by Michael Morrison on Gavin
Rae. David Marshall takes the free kick.
80:46 Substitution Yuki Abe on for Andy King.
80:46 Lloyd Dyer takes a shot. Gavin Rae gets a block in.
80:24 Robbie Neilson produces a cross, blocked by Gabor Gyepes.
77:55 Mark Hudson challenges Steve Howard unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Richie Wellens.
77:34 Chris Burke takes a shot. Save by Carl Ikeme.
76:20 The ball is delivered by Chris Burke, clearance made by Michael Morrison.
75:45 The ball is swung over by Peter Whittingham, clearance made by Jack Hobbs.
75:00 Centre by Chris Burke.
74:38 Lloyd Dyer has an effort at goal from the just inside the box hitting the post.
Correction - 73:38 Richie Wellens takes a shot. Blocked by Mark Hudson. A cross is delivered by Bruno Berner, Lee Naylor makes a clearance. The
ball is swung over by Robbie Neilson, clearance by Mark Hudson.
73:38 Richie Wellens takes a shot. Mark Hudson gets a block in. Bruno Berner crosses the ball, Mark Hudson manages to make a clearance.
The ball is swung over by Robbie Neilson, Mark Hudson manages to make a clearance.
70:54 Gavin Rae fouled by Matt Oakley, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Lee Naylor.
70:06 Robbie Neilson crosses the ball, Header by Steve Howard from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.
68:15 Substitution Darcy Blake replaces Stephen McPhail.
67:06 The assist for the goal came from Richie Wellens.
67:06 GOAL - Andy King:Leicester 2 - 1 Cardiff Andy King grabs a goal from just inside the area to the top left corner of the goal. Leicester 2-1 Cardiff.
65:58 Steve Howard takes a shot. Blocked by Kevin McNaughton.
62:21 Robbie Neilson produces a cross, clearance by Kevin McNaughton.
Correction - 61:44 Lloyd Dyer produces a cross.
61:44 The ball is sent over by Chris Burke.
60:42 Mark Hudson concedes a free kick for a foul on Steve Howard. Direct effort from the free kick comes in from Martyn Waghorn,
save by David Marshall.
60:08 The referee blows for offside. Jack Hobbs takes the free kick.
59:21 Substitution Aaron Wildig is brought on as a substitute for Jason Koumas.
58:18 The ball is crossed by Chris Burke, blocked by Bruno Berner. Inswinging corner taken by Peter Whittingham from the right by-line,
Gabor Gyepes has a headed effort at goal from close in which goes wide right of the target.
56:47 The ball is swung over by Bruno Berner, Matt Oakley takes a shot. Save made by David Marshall. Martyn Waghorn takes a shot.
Save by David Marshall. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Martyn Waghorn from the left by-line. Shot by Martyn Waghorn
from outside the box goes over the target.
56:33 The ball is swung over by Bruno Berner, clearance made by Mark Hudson.
55:07 Lloyd Dyer has an effort from just inside the box that misses to the left of the goal.
54:06 Martyn Waghorn has an effort at goal from outside the box missing to the wide left of the goal.
53:14 Free kick awarded for a foul by Stephen McPhail on Andy King. Free kick taken by Richie Wellens.
52:37 The ball is crossed by Richie Wellens, Headed effort from inside the area by Andy King misses to the left of the goal.
50:55 Assist on the goal came from Richie Wellens.
50:55 GOAL - Andy King:Leicester 1 - 1 Cardiff Andy King grabs a headed goal from inside the penalty box. Leicester 1-1 Cardiff.
50:52 Richie Wellens crosses the ball,
49:59 Martyn Waghorn takes a shot. Blocked by Gavin Rae. Corner from the right by-line taken by Martyn Waghorn, clearance made by
49:27 Free kick awarded for a foul by Bruno Berner on Andrew Keogh. Stephen McPhail takes the free kick.
48:53 A cross is delivered by Martyn Waghorn, Lee Naylor manages to make a clearance.
46:29 The ball is sent over by Richie Wellens, save by David Marshall.
45:01 The referee gets the second half started.
45:00+1:06 The referee blows for half time.
45:00+0:45 Centre by Martyn Waghorn, clearance made by Mark Hudson.
44:20 The ball is crossed by Lloyd Dyer, Close range effort by Martyn Waghorn goes wide of the right-hand upright.
44:06 Chris Burke delivers the ball, save by Carl Ikeme.
43:19 The ball is swung over by Chris Burke, Jack Hobbs gets a block in. Corner taken left-footed by Peter Whittingham from the
right by-line, save by Carl Ikeme.
41:57 Bruno Berner sends in a cross.
41:41 Lloyd Dyer sends in a cross, clearance by Lee Naylor.
41:09 Centre by Martyn Waghorn, save by David Marshall.
38:46 Lee Naylor concedes a free kick for a foul on Lloyd Dyer. Richie Wellens takes the free kick.
38:04 The referee blows for offside against Robbie Neilson. David Marshall takes the free kick.
35:52 The ball is sent over by Robbie Neilson, Peter Whittingham gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken by Martyn Waghorn, Steve
Howard takes a shot. Andrew Keogh makes a clearance.
35:20 Foul by Lee Naylor on Lloyd Dyer, free kick awarded. Matt Oakley takes the direct free kick.
34:33 Andrew Keogh takes a shot. Save by Carl Ikeme.
33:16 Bruno Berner concedes a free kick for a foul on Chris Burke. Free kick taken by Peter Whittingham.
31:06 Jason Koumas produces a right-footed shot from outside the box and misses left.
30:34 The ball is delivered by Chris Burke, Bruno Berner gets a block in. Corner taken left-footed by Peter Whittingham from the
right by-line, clearance by Robbie Neilson.
30:12 Peter Whittingham produces a cross.
28:45 Richie Wellens gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gavin Rae. Mark Hudson takes the free kick.
26:32 Steve Howard concedes a free kick for a foul on Gabor Gyepes. Gabor Gyepes takes the direct free kick.
25:28 GOAL - Lee Naylor:Leicester 0 - 1 Cardiff Lee Naylor gets on the score sheet with a goal from long distance to the top right corner of the goal. Leicester 0-1 Cardiff.
22:35 Richie Wellens produces a cross, Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Michael Morrison misses to the right of
21:34 Gavin Rae concedes a free kick for a foul on Steve Howard. Martyn Waghorn crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed
from left channel, clearance made by Gabor Gyepes.
20:54 Corner taken left-footed by Peter Whittingham from the right by-line, save made by Carl Ikeme.
20:08 Unfair challenge on Jason Koumas by Jack Hobbs results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Lee Naylor.
18:38 Centre by Martyn Waghorn, Mark Hudson manages to make a clearance.
17:58 Steve Howard takes a shot. Save by David Marshall.
16:29 The ball is swung over by Andy King.
14:33 Bruno Berner produces a cross, blocked by Kevin McNaughton. Corner taken by Richie Wellens from the left by-line. Centre by
Michael Morrison, save made by David Marshall.
12:48 Andy King produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide right of the goal.
12:07 A cross is delivered by Lloyd Dyer, Mark Hudson makes a clearance.
8:46 Jason Koumas takes a shot. Carl Ikeme makes a save.
6:16 Unfair challenge on Richie Wellens by Gavin Rae results in a free kick. Richie Wellens restarts play with the free kick.
4:55 Foul by Peter Whittingham on Matt Oakley, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Richie Wellens.
3:28 Jason Koumas fouled by Lloyd Dyer, the ref awards a free kick. David Marshall takes the direct free kick.
1:19 Foul by Matt Oakley on Gavin Rae, free kick awarded. Peter Whittingham restarts play with the free kick.
0:00 The referee gets the game started.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
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