Sheff Utd 0-2 Cardiff

By Peter ShuttleworthBBC Sport Wales at Bramall Lane

Craig Bellamy inspired Cardiff City back into the Championship's top two at bottom club Sheffield United.

Bellamy curled in a brilliant opener from the left-hand side of the box before going close twice.

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas added a second, heading in Chris Burke's right-wing cross from close-range to seal Cardiff's third successive win.

Matthew Lowton and Bjorn Helge Riise went close, but the Blades suffered a third consecutive defeat.

High-flying Cardiff dominated early possession and Bellamy almost put the visitors ahead in the 10th minute as the Bluebirds skipper cut in from the left-hand side.

But United keeper Steve Simonsen made a good one-handed save down to his left-hand side as Bellamy tried to fire low into the far corner.

And from an almost exact angle, Bellamy fired Cardiff into a deserved lead.

Whittingham's cute reverse pass caught United right-back Nyron Nosworthy square and the Wales international cut in from the left to whip the ball right-footed past a helpless Simonsen into the far corner.

Bellamy's ninth goal of the season, moments after Jay Bothroyd's flick from Chris Burke's corner was blocked on the line by Nosworthy, took a wicked deflection to leave Simonsen no chance.

The on-loan Manchester City striker's first goal in 11 games was the record 26th time the Bluebirds had broken the deadlock in a Championship game this season.

Bellamy almost doubled Cardiff's lead just before the half-hour, but Simonsen produced a fine save.

Burke's slick defence-splitting pass caught the frail United backline square but Bellamy's driven strike from just inside the area was brilliantly tipped around the post by the former Everton stopper.

United had to battle for their only real opening of the first-half but Joe Mattock's 20-yard drive hit Bothroyd in the face instead of testing Cardiff keeper Stephen Bywater.

Bothroyd was up quickly, though, and was soon asking referee Mike Oliver for a penalty after his run into the penalty area was stopped by Matthew Lowton's challenge, but Bothroyd's solitary protest was in vain.

United are in serious danger of relegation to the third-tier, 22 years after leaving that division, and their pressing almost created a chance for Bjorn Helge Riise.

But the Norwegian striker could not extend his legs enough to nudge Stephen Quinn's low, left-wing cross into Bywater's goal.

Cardiff's pacey attackers relished United's need to go forward and the Bothroyd-Bellamy combination almost created a Bluebirds second on the stroke of half-time.

Bothroyd led a slick counter-attack, but from his deep cross from the left, Bellamy sent the shot whizzing over the crossbar.

Micky Adams' men upped the ante after the break and Lowton should have levelled, but the defender's free header from Riise's right-wing corner was easy for Bywater.

Cardiff top-scorer Bothroyd saved his side a goal with a superb last-ditch tackle as Daniel Bogdanovic was primed to pull the trigger from 12 yards.

United had chances as Riise was denied when put through by a last-gasp Kevin McNaughton tackle and Lowton missed another free header with just Bywater to beat.

But the hosts, who had failed to score in 18 of their 41 games this season, were left to rue missed opportunities as substitute Emmanuel-Thomas crashed in his second of the season soon after.

The on-loan Arsenal forward bulldozed in front of two covering defenders to head in Burke's teasing right-wing cross from inside the six yard box to seal their division-best 10th away win this season.

And Norwich's 2-2 at Watford means Cardiff leapfrog the Canaries back into the second automatic promotion place as Dave Jones' men bid for a top-flight return after a 49-year absence.

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