Cardiff’s relegation concerns suffered another blow as they recorded a 1-0 Championship defeat at in-form Hull.
Man-of-the-match Cyrus Christie scored the winning goal after 62 minutes to leave the visitors just two points clear of the bottom three.
Cardiff, without a league victory in 2023, will leave East Yorkshire frustrated after Callum Robinson’s first-half penalty was brilliantly saved by Matt Ingram.
Hull, though, have been rejuvenated following Liam Rosenior’s arrival and have now lost just once in nine league games.
They had to work hard against Cardiff as new manager Sabri Lamouchi had his players well organised in their pursuit to leave the MKM Stadium with at least a point.
But once Christie let rip with a precise, left-footed finish, a home win rarely looked in any doubt.
In keeping with most of the game, Hull controlled the early stages and were unfortunate not to have opened the scoring after 13 minutes.
Regan Slater confused Perry Ng with a smart feint inside the penalty area before hitting the ball low and hard from the left.
Slater’s effort was deflected, but struck the base of the right post before falling kindly to prostrate goalkeeper Ryan Allsop.
Christie then went close following a maverick run and strike from the right, with the resulting corner headed over the crossbar by a wasteful Alfie Jones.
Just when it appeared that Hull would kick on, Cardiff were awarded a penalty after 22 minutes.
Left-back Callum Elder was lured into a raw challenge on Jaden Philogene, from which referee David Webb made the easy decision to point towards the spot.
Robinson’s theatrical run-up gave Ingram time to adjust, but his low save at his right post was still outstanding.
Perhaps surprisingly – and buoyed by an enthusiastic crowd – Rosenior’s side failed to take advantage of Ingram’s important stop before half-time.
If anything, Cardiff looked the more likely scorers before the break, with Callum O’Dowda a persistent menace on the left.
Yet the beginning of the second half mirrored that of the first, with Hull on top.
Christie sent a sliding hit wide of the left post after 54 minutes, which served notice of what was to come.
Lamouchi’s players could not argue that they were not warned as the former Swansea defender scored eight minutes later in almost-identical circumstances.
Jack Simpson was far too weak in the challenge, which allowed Christie the chance to skip onto his left and swerve the ball into the bottom left.
Cardiff predictably rallied, but a flurry of set-pieces came to naught – as did a noticeable switch to long-ball tactics.
Hull were nonetheless grateful to Jones for three points as the centre-back did well to block Sory Kaba’s late attempt from seven yards.
Hull’s Liam Rosenior:
“I want the fans and everyone involved with the club to be excited, but what we need to do is keep improving. We’ve shown in the last few games that we can win games in different ways. We showed a little more belief in the second half but some of our stuff in the first half was outstanding.
“I knew they’d be a real threat, physically, as they’ve got some big boys in the team. But that’s something you have to stand up to and fight against. We did that and I’m so proud of them. It also shows the mentality of this group. You need to be able to outplay teams and you also need to grind out victories in this league.”
Cardiff’s Sabri Lamouchi:
“I have a good squad. They are very nice guys, but maybe too nice. Cardiff must stay in the Championship, so we must find a solution. We need to be more aggressive in the two boxes and change our mentality to the game.
“If we opened the scoring first, it’s a different game – but it’s not enough. We are all disappointed. We can’t accept what’s happened. We have to change something because we have three teams behind us. We need to fight and to switch on. And if you want to win, you must score. I didn’t think we deserved to lose. We are close but far at the same time.”