Match ends, Bolton Wanderers 3, Cardiff City 0.
Liam Feeney's first two goals for Bolton earned Neil Lennon a third win in five matches as manager, though they remain in the relegation zone.
The ex-Millwall winger swept in Lee Chung-Yong's cross to score for the first time since August 2013, before Darren Pratley fed him to add a second.
Matt Mills scuffed in a third, before Cardiff's Ravel Morrison clashed with Pratley as City's frustration grew.
Midfielder Morrison appeared to kick out at Pratley before both were booked.
Lennon, unhappy at the manner of Friday's 2-1 defeat at Norwich, responded by dropping captain Jay Spearing and last season's top scorer Jermaine Beckford to the bench.
Bolton went ahead when Pratley embarked on a drifting cross-field run, playing in Lee to cross for Feeney to beat David Marshall.
Mills, captain for the night in place of Spearing, then nodded over before having a close-range shot cleared off the line by Craig Noone.
But Feeney made it two when Lee kept the ball alive on the left to allow Pratley to hit a far-post cross to Feeney, who struck his shot into the ground and over Marshall.
Mills made victory certain when his mis-hit Max Clayton's low ball from the left into the ground, and it dribbled into the far corner of the net.
Morrison and Pratley were then involved in their late tussle, but both men stayed on the pitch after a lengthy discussion between the officials.
Cardiff, losing for only the second time under manager Russell Slade, stay in mid-table.
Bolton manager Neil Lennon: "It's the best we've played since I've been here against a very good side with a good manager.
"There was a good intensity and tempo to our play and real quality in the final third. We finished the game strongly which pleased me as well, so our fitness levels are improving.
"I think I've got some good footballers here and they've shown that tonight. Now, that's a benchmark. We can't keep going win, loss, win, loss, win and then lose on Friday. We've set a good standard now."
Cardiff City manager Russell Slade: "Sometimes you look at your players in training and you think maybe they're not looking confident but there's been a real confidence about the changing room and preparation has gone as well as ever.
"However, I just felt in that first period we had a little bit of a soft underbelly and you can't do that. And also you can't switch the game on and off like a tap."
- 16DaviesSubstituted forSpearingat 52'minutes
- 7FeeneySubstituted forClaytonat 71'minutes
- 21PratleyBooked at 83mins
- 28DaviesSubstituted forBeckfordat 85'minutes
- 5Ecuele Manga
- 3da Silva
- 21RallsSubstituted forMorrisonat 45'minutesBooked at 83mins
- 10Le FondreSubstituted forMaynardat 74'minutes
- Geoff Eltringham
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Bolton Wanderers 3, Cardiff City 0.
Attempt missed. Josh Vela (Bolton Wanderers) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Max Clayton.
Attempt blocked. Max Clayton (Bolton Wanderers) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Lee Chung-Yong.
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Matt Mills.
Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Lee Chung-Yong (Bolton Wanderers).
Attempt blocked. Peter Whittingham (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Aron Gunnarsson.
Attempt saved. Nicky Maynard (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.
Attempt blocked. Jermaine Beckford (Bolton Wanderers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Lee Chung-Yong.
Attempt missed. Ravel Morrison (Cardiff City) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Peter Whittingham with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Andy Lonergan.
Attempt saved. Nicky Maynard (Cardiff City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Craig Noone with a cross.
Attempt missed. Darren Pratley (Bolton Wanderers) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Tim Ream.
Corner, Bolton Wanderers. Conceded by Fabio.
Attempt blocked. Jermaine Beckford (Bolton Wanderers) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jay Spearing with a through ball.
Substitution, Bolton Wanderers. Jermaine Beckford replaces Craig Davies.
Corner, Bolton Wanderers. Conceded by Craig Noone.
Ravel Morrison (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card.
Darren Pratley (Bolton Wanderers) is shown the yellow card.