Cardiff City boosted their hopes of Premier League survival with a victory that plunged bottom club Fulham deeper into trouble.

At the end of a nervy opening half, defender Steven Caulker fired Cardiff in front from close range.

Lewis Holtby levelled just before the hour, blasting home following a corner.

Cardiff can avoid relegation - Solskjaer

But Caulker's header and Sascha Riether's own goal within four second-half minutes moved the Bluebirds up to 18th, four points ahead of Fulham.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are level on points with 17th-placed West Brom and now only in the relegation zone on goal difference.

With so much riding on the game, there was a nervous tension in the air throughout the game at the Cardiff City Stadium.

And the relief was tangible at full-time, with the home side leaving the field to rapturous applause, before controversial owner Vincent Tan was booed when he walked onto the pitch to celebrate a vital victory.

Cardiff boss Solskjaer employed a 4-5-1 formation more akin to Malky Mackay's reign than his own for a match he described as "must win" for both sides.

Cardiff owner Vincent Tan prays head of the game against Fulham

Cardiff owner Vincent Tan prays ahead of the game

The Bluebirds pressed high up the pitch when Fulham were in possession and were full of attacking intent, but failed to carve out any clear-cut opportunities early on.

And it was the visitors who had the first chance, Johnny Heitinga's quickly-taken free-kick finding Ashkan Dejagah in space inside the area, but his shot hit the side-netting.

Cardiff's first opportunity fell to Fraizer Campbell, who was full of running throughout despite spending the night with his wife after she went into labour, but the striker was unable to find a way past Maarten Stekelenburg.

With Fulham attempting to deny Cardiff any space down the flanks, winger Craig Noone was forced to cut inside more than usual, and after one such run he shot narrowly wide from just outside the box.

Cardiff continued to press, and Kenwyne Jones had a powerful shot from Jordon Mutch's low cross turned behind before Caulker broke the deadlock.

Players not fighting enough - Magath

The England defender finished powerfully from inside the six-yard box after Noone's cross was deflected into his path.

Fulham were more positive after the break, but Cardiff should have extended their lead when Jones headed wide from point-blank range at the far post.

And just two minutes later, the Cottagers were level as Heitinga headed a corner into the path of Holtby, who slid the ball into the empty net.

But they were level for just eight minutes, with Caulker heading home his second from a Mutch corner, the ball bouncing into the net over Stekelenburg.

And when Riether diverted the ball into his own net after Stekelenburg had saved Campbell's header, Cardiff's first top-flight double since 1961 was complete.

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Lineup, Bookings (1) & Substitutions (6)

Cardiff City

  • 01 Marshall
  • 35 Fabio
  • 42 John
  • 08 Medel (Wolff Eikrem - 81' )
  • 04 Caulker
  • 06 Turner (Théophile-Catherine - 90' )
  • 16 Noone
  • 18 Mutch
  • 09 Jones
  • 13 Kim Bo-kyung Booked
  • 10 Campbell (Daehli - 72' )

Substitutes

  • 15 Wolff Eikrem
  • 27 Torres Ruiz
  • 28 Théophile-Catherine
  • 29 Daehli
  • 32 Lewis
  • 36 Zaha
  • 39 Bellamy

Fulham

  • 01 Stekelenburg
  • 27 Riether
  • 15 Richardson
  • 07 Sidwell
  • 04 Heitinga
  • 05 Hangeland
  • 24 Dejagah (Karagounis - 50' )
  • 10 Holtby
  • 25 Woodrow (Bent - 76' )
  • 18 Mitroglou
  • 03 Riise (Kacaniklic - 45' )

Substitutes

  • 06 Kvist
  • 11 Kacaniklic
  • 13 Stockdale
  • 14 Karagounis
  • 22 Zverotic
  • 33 Burn
  • 39 Bent
Ref: Martin Atkinson
Att: 26,796

Match Stats

Shots

19 14

On target

9 6

Corners

7 6

Fouls

9 12

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Cardiff City 3, Fulham 1.

90:00 +4:02 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Cardiff City 3, Fulham 1.

90:00 +2:59

Alexander Kacaniklic (Fulham) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

90:00 +2:59

Foul by Magnus Wolff Eikrem (Cardiff City).

90:00 +2:24

Attempt missed. Mats Daehli (Cardiff City) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Kim Bo-Kyung following a fast break.

89:52

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

89:52 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Cardiff City. Kévin Théophile-Catherine replaces Ben Turner because of an injury.

89:04

Delay in match Ben Turner (Cardiff City) because of an injury.

88:32

Attempt saved. Darren Bent (Fulham) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Giorgos Karagounis.

88:02

Attempt saved. Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Giorgos Karagounis.

87:12

Attempt saved. Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Kenwyne Jones.

83:03

Attempt blocked. Steve Sidwell (Fulham) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Sascha Riether.

81:53

Offside, Fulham. Kostas Mitroglou tries a through ball, but Steve Sidwell is caught offside.

80:18

Steven Caulker (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

80:18

Foul by Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham).

80:06 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Cardiff City. Magnus Wolff Eikrem replaces Gary Medel.

78:02

Foul by Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City).

78:02

Lewis Holtby (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

76:10

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by David Marshall.

76:08

Attempt saved. Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Kieran Richardson with a headed pass.

75:46

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Steven Caulker.

75:41

Attempt missed. Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left following a corner.

75:16 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Fulham. Darren Bent replaces Cauley Woodrow.

74:31

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Gary Medel.

71:47 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Cardiff City. Mats Daehli replaces Fraizer Campbell.

70:47 Goal scored

Goal! Own Goal by Sascha Riether, Fulham. Cardiff City 3, Fulham 1.

70:40

Attempt saved. Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City) header from very close range is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Craig Noone with a cross.

68:55

Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

68:55

Foul by Cauley Woodrow (Fulham).

67:47

Offside, Fulham. Alexander Kacaniklic tries a through ball, but Kostas Mitroglou is caught offside.

66:31 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Cardiff City 2, Fulham 1. Steven Caulker (Cardiff City) header from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jordon Mutch with a cross following a corner.

66:16

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Sascha Riether.

66:13

Attempt blocked. Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jordon Mutch with a cross.

65:58

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Maarten Stekelenburg.

65:54

Attempt saved. Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jordon Mutch.

65:42

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Brede Hangeland.

64:25

Craig Noone (Cardiff City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

64:25

Foul by Kieran Richardson (Fulham).

63:03

Attempt blocked. Steven Caulker (Cardiff City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

62:29

Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

62:29

Foul by Steve Sidwell (Fulham).

58:55 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Cardiff City 1, Fulham 1. Lewis Holtby (Fulham) left footed shot from very close range to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Johnny Heitinga following a corner.

58:53

Attempt missed. Johnny Heitinga (Fulham) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Giorgos Karagounis with a cross following a corner.

58:25

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Fabio.

57:54

Alexander Kacaniklic (Fulham) wins a free kick on the right wing.

57:54

Foul by Gary Medel (Cardiff City).

57:07

Foul by Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City).

57:07

Giorgos Karagounis (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

56:32

Attempt missed. Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Kieran Richardson.

55:06 Booking

Booking Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

54:40

Foul by Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City).

54:40

Giorgos Karagounis (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

53:22

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Alexander Kacaniklic.

52:27

Attempt blocked. Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Kenwyne Jones.

51:33

Attempt missed. Alexander Kacaniklic (Fulham) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

50:12

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Kenwyne Jones.

50:11

Attempt blocked. Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

49:44 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Fulham. Giorgos Karagounis replaces Ashkan Dejagah.

49:14

Foul by Fabio (Cardiff City).

49:14

Alexander Kacaniklic (Fulham) wins a free kick on the left wing.

48:23

Attempt missed. Kenwyne Jones (Cardiff City) header from the left side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Craig Noone with a cross.

46:34

Corner, Fulham. Conceded by David Marshall.

46:31

Attempt saved. Lewis Holtby (Fulham) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Cauley Woodrow with a headed pass.

45:37

Attempt missed. Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Kenwyne Jones.

45:00

Second Half begins Cardiff City 1, Fulham 0.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Fulham. Alexander Kacaniklic replaces John Arne Riise.

45:00 +1:46 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Cardiff City 1, Fulham 0.

45:00 +0:49 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Cardiff City 1, Fulham 0. Steven Caulker (Cardiff City) right footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal following a corner.

45:00 +0:48

Attempt blocked. Craig Noone (Cardiff City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

45:00 +0:19

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Brede Hangeland.

44:48

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Ashkan Dejagah.

44:41

Attempt saved. Kenwyne Jones (Cardiff City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Jordon Mutch with a cross.

43:36

Foul by Kenwyne Jones (Cardiff City).

43:36

Brede Hangeland (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

41:12

Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

41:12

Foul by Lewis Holtby (Fulham).

39:43

Attempt missed. Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Lewis Holtby.

37:23

Attempt missed. Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Kim Bo-Kyung.

36:56

Kenwyne Jones (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

36:56

Foul by Johnny Heitinga (Fulham).

34:40

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Kieran Richardson.

33:05

Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

33:05

Foul by Sascha Riether (Fulham).

30:41

Attempt saved. Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jordon Mutch.

26:21

Attempt missed. Craig Noone (Cardiff City) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Jordon Mutch.

25:50

Attempt saved. Kenwyne Jones (Cardiff City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jordon Mutch with a cross.

23:01

Foul by Cauley Woodrow (Fulham).

23:01

Gary Medel (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

21:15

Attempt missed. Craig Noone (Cardiff City) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Jordon Mutch.

16:30

Attempt saved. Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

15:37

Attempt saved. Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Kenwyne Jones.

10:50

Foul by Steve Sidwell (Fulham).

10:50

Kim Bo-Kyung (Cardiff City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

10:01

Attempt missed. Ashkan Dejagah (Fulham) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Johnny Heitinga following a set piece situation.

9:44

Cauley Woodrow (Fulham) wins a free kick on the right wing.

9:44

Foul by Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City).

7:05

Foul by Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham).

7:05

Steven Caulker (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

4:51

John Arne Riise (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

4:51

Foul by Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City).

4:20

Foul by Lewis Holtby (Fulham).

4:20

Fabio (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

2:23

Foul by Cauley Woodrow (Fulham).

2:23

Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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