Cardiff City plunged deeper into Premier League relegation trouble as Crystal Palace moved closer to safety with an emphatic win in south Wales.

Palace winger Jason Puncheon's precise low drive gave Tony Pulis's side a deserved lead before half-time.

Cardiff lacked belief - Solskjaer

Former Cardiff midfielder Joe Ledley pounced on a rebound from close range, before Puncheon curled in a magnificent third from 20 yards.

Second-bottom Cardiff are six points from safety, with Palace up to 14th.

The defeat leaves the Bluebirds' hopes of avoiding an instant return to the Championship hanging by a thread with just five games remaining.

Palace, promoted to the Premier League last season alongside their opponents, have opened up a seven-point gap on third-bottom Fulham.

Cardiff went into the crucial match as the only side with a worse away record than Palace - the Londoners had scored just six goals on the road all season.

The Eagles, fresh from an impressive 1-0 win against Chelsea last weekend, are hitting form at the right time and showed the same hard work and desire they displayed against the title-chasing Blues.

Ledley's return

Joe Ledley

Wales international Joe Ledley enjoyed his first return to boyhood club Cardiff, scoring one and setting up another in Palace's 3-0 win.

Ledley made 258 appearances for the Bluebirds, scoring 31 goals, between 2004 and 2010. He also helped the Welsh club reach the 2008 FA Cup final.

A scrappy first half saw plenty of toil and sweat but no real goalmouth action for either set of supporters - who were both in fine voice from the first whistle - to cheer.

Cardiff pushed forward in numbers and looked to attack at every opportunity, while Palace put bodies behind the ball before trying to hit their hosts on the break.

The Welsh side looked to get ex-Eagles winger Wilfried Zaha into the game as much as possible in the opening exchanges.

The Manchester United loanee, who left Selhurst Park in the summer, troubled his old team-mates with his pace and skill but failed to produce a telling delivery for Cardiff's attackers to convert.

Despite their territorial advantage, the Bluebirds' best chance came via a Palace player.

Eagles goalkeeper Julian Speroni dived low to his left to turn the ball behind after defender Adrian Mariappa headed Jordon Mutch's cross towards his own goal, under pressure from Fraizer Campbell.

And Palace took a precious lead when Puncheon fired in after Ledley's pass found him in space inside the Cardiff box.

Zaha drifted out of the game and was booed by large sections of the Cardiff supporters as he was replaced by Craig Noone in the second half, much to the delight of visiting Palace fans.

Cardiff continued to press forward in search of a way back into the game and Noone's introduction nearly paid off. Kenwyne Jones beat Speroni to the winger's cross and headed the ball towards goal, only for Marouane Chamakh to head the ball clear.

Defensive display delights Pulis

And Palace's top scorer, himself a second-half substitute, set up his team's second with a header from Puncheon's free-kick.

Bluebirds keeper David Marshall saved the Moroccan striker's effort but the ball rebounded to former Cardiff hero Ledley, who tapped the ball into the net.

The Wales international, who said in the lead-up to the match that he wanted both sides to stay up, did not celebrate on his first return since leaving for Celtic in July 2010.

Cardiff continued to pour forward in numbers but could not create anything to trouble Speroni's goal.

And Puncheon sealed the points late on curling the ball home from the edge of the area following a Palace counter-attack.

For a photo gallery from Saturday's Premier League action, visit the BBC Sport Facebook page.  

Lineup, Bookings (6) & Substitutions (6)

Cardiff City

  • 01 Marshall
  • 28 Théophile-Catherine
  • 03 Taylor
  • 08 Medel Booked
  • 04 Caulker
  • 06 Turner Booked
  • 36 Zaha (Noone - 62' )
  • 18 Mutch
  • 10 Campbell
  • 09 Jones (Cowie - 78' )
  • 29 Daehli (Bellamy - 72' )

Substitutes

  • 15 Wolff Eikrem
  • 16 Noone
  • 19 Cowie
  • 25 McNaughton
  • 27 Torres Ruiz
  • 32 Lewis
  • 39 Bellamy

Crystal Palace

  • 01 Speroni
  • 03 Mariappa Booked
  • 02 Ward Booked
  • 08 Dikgacoi
  • 06 Dann
  • 27 Delaney
  • 13 Puncheon
  • 15 Jedinak
  • 30 Jerome Booked (Murray - 83' )
  • 28 Ledley Booked (Parr - 79' )
  • 07 Bolasie (Chamakh - 64' )

Substitutes

  • 04 Parr
  • 11 Ince
  • 16 Gayle
  • 17 Murray
  • 19 Gabbidon
  • 26 Hennessey
  • 29 Chamakh
Ref: Phil Dowd
Att: 27,687

Match Stats

Shots

13 13

On target

3 8

Corners

10 3

Fouls

5 13

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Cardiff City 0, Crystal Palace 3.

90:00 +4:05 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Cardiff City 0, Crystal Palace 3.

90:00 +4:01

Attempt blocked. Glenn Murray (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Marouane Chamakh.

90:00 +2:35

Attempt saved. Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Glenn Murray.

90:00 +1:41

Attempt saved. Andrew Taylor (Cardiff City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Don Cowie with a cross.

89:18

Attempt saved. Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

87:50 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Cardiff City 0, Crystal Palace 3. Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from outside the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Adrian Mariappa.

86:39

Kévin Théophile-Catherine (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

86:39

Foul by Glenn Murray (Crystal Palace).

85:53

Attempt missed. Craig Bellamy (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Don Cowie.

82:02 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Crystal Palace. Glenn Murray replaces Cameron Jerome.

81:29

Attempt missed. Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City) header from the right side of the six yard box misses to the right. Assisted by Craig Bellamy with a cross following a corner.

80:59

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Damien Delaney.

78:30

Foul by Ben Turner (Cardiff City).

78:30

Damien Delaney (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

78:05

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

78:04 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jonathan Parr replaces Joe Ledley because of an injury.

77:44 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Cardiff City. Don Cowie replaces Kenwyne Jones.

77:30 Booking

Booking Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

77:20

Delay in match Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace) because of an injury.

76:59

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

76:59

Foul by Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace).

73:20 Booking

Booking Adrian Mariappa (Crystal Palace) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

73:14

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

73:14

Foul by Adrian Mariappa (Crystal Palace).

71:47 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Cardiff City. Craig Bellamy replaces Mats Daehli.

70:40 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Cardiff City 0, Crystal Palace 2. Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner following a set piece situation.

70:38

Attempt saved. Marouane Chamakh (Crystal Palace) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jason Puncheon with a cross.

69:52 Booking

Booking Gary Medel (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

69:42

Foul by Gary Medel (Cardiff City).

69:42

Cameron Jerome (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

67:36 Booking

Booking Ben Turner (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

67:30

Foul by Ben Turner (Cardiff City).

67:30

Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

65:34

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

65:34

Foul by Marouane Chamakh (Crystal Palace).

65:25

Attempt saved. Kenwyne Jones (Cardiff City) header from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Craig Noone with a cross.

65:09

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Scott Dann.

63:40 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Crystal Palace. Marouane Chamakh replaces Yannick Bolasie.

63:06

Attempt blocked. Craig Noone (Cardiff City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Gary Medel.

61:52

Kenwyne Jones (Cardiff City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

61:52

Foul by Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace).

61:17 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Cardiff City. Craig Noone replaces Wilfried Zaha.

60:54

Attempt missed. Steven Caulker (Cardiff City) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Ben Turner with a cross.

59:47

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

59:47

Foul by Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace).

59:10

Attempt saved. Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Kagisho Dikgacoi.

57:36

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Mile Jedinak.

57:34

Attempt blocked. Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Wilfried Zaha.

55:46

Attempt blocked. Cameron Jerome (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Yannick Bolasie.

52:31

Attempt missed. Jordon Mutch (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right from a direct free kick.

51:37

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

51:37

Foul by Cameron Jerome (Crystal Palace).

50:10

Attempt missed. Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top left corner. Assisted by Jason Puncheon.

47:45

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Mile Jedinak.

45:00

Second Half begins Cardiff City 0, Crystal Palace 1.

45:00 +2:15 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Cardiff City 0, Crystal Palace 1.

45:00 +0:46

Foul by Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City).

45:00 +0:46

Scott Dann (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

43:57

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Cameron Jerome.

43:55

Attempt blocked. Andrew Taylor (Cardiff City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

43:22

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

43:22

Foul by Scott Dann (Crystal Palace).

41:24

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Joel Ward.

38:37

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Scott Dann.

38:33

Attempt blocked. Kenwyne Jones (Cardiff City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

37:05 Booking

Booking Joel Ward (Crystal Palace) is shown the yellow card.

34:13 Booking

Booking Cameron Jerome (Crystal Palace) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

33:48

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

33:48

Foul by Cameron Jerome (Crystal Palace).

32:49

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

32:49

Foul by Cameron Jerome (Crystal Palace).

30:51 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Cardiff City 0, Crystal Palace 1. Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Joe Ledley.

28:29

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Adrian Mariappa.

26:51

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Adrian Mariappa.

26:30

Attempt saved. Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Mile Jedinak.

24:34

Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Ben Turner.

24:12

Attempt blocked. Gary Medel (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

23:39

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Julian Speroni.

23:36

Attempt saved. Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jordon Mutch with a cross.

20:17

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

20:17

Foul by Yannick Bolasie (Crystal Palace).

18:42

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

18:42

Foul by Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace).

14:45

Wilfried Zaha (Cardiff City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

14:45

Foul by Adrian Mariappa (Crystal Palace).

13:37

Attempt saved. Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

8:00

Attempt blocked. Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

7:34

Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Kévin Théophile-Catherine.

3:43

Attempt missed. Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Jason Puncheon with a cross following a corner.

2:52

Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Kévin Théophile-Catherine.

0:53

Hand ball by Gary Medel (Cardiff City).

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

Live data and text provided by our data suppliers