Championship - Cardiff go four points clear with win at Blackburn

Cardiff stormed four points clear at the top of the Championship with a clinical 4-1 victory that leaves Blackburn's own promotion ambitions in a sorry state.

Having earlier collected a fifth booking of the season to rule himself out of City's next game against Peterborough, captain Mark Hudson headed the visitors into a 30th-minute lead from Craig Noone's cross.

Craig Bellamy, who counts Rovers among his vast collection of former clubs, struck the crossbar towards the end of a first half where Blackburn produced a woeful 45 minutes - a worryingly familiar theme of their recent outings.

One of Rovers' few bright sparks, on-loan Manchester United forward Josh King, brought them level in the 51st minute, only for Bellamy to restore Cardiff's advantage four minutes later.

Substitutes Joe Mason and Kim Bo-Kyung completed Blackburn's misery, leaving Henning Berg to survey a fourth defeat from eight games in charge that leaves his side 15 points behind the leaders after 21 games and, perhaps more significantly, four shy of the play-off places ahead of the weekend fixtures.

King was rewarded for a lively second-half cameo during the east Lancashire derby draw against Burnley with a place in the Blackburn starting XI, where Berg also recalled Dickson Etuhu in midfield and Markus Olsson on the left wing.

Noone returned from suspension for Cardiff to relegate Kim to the bench and Don Cowie came into midfield for Jordon Mutch, who served a ban of his own.

Cowie carelessly ceded possession in the fifth minute, allowing Jordan Rhodes to send King racing towards goal before Ben Turner blocked his shot.

Rovers left-back Martin Olsson had to be alert at the back post to intervene when opposite number Andrew Taylor speared in a low ball inviting Heidar Helguson to prod home.

Following Jason Lowe's yellow-card challenge on Bellamy in the 29th minute and an associated bout of handbags, Peter Whittingham punted the resulting free-kick hopefully forward, but Rovers could only clear as far as Noone and his left-footed delivery from the right was planted past Paul Robinson by Hudson.

As Rovers pressed forward, Bellamy raced clear of a vacant backline and clipped against the bar.

Kazim-Richards was introduced for Markus Olsson as Berg looked to spark fresh impetus at the break and the change proved to be inspired.

The Turkey international controlled a Rhodes' flick on and released King to slot under onrushing Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall.

Moments later Kazim-Richards saw a rasping 20-yard effort deflected behind, but no sooner had Blackburn briefly assumed the ascendancy they were behind once more.

Again a long, hopeful free-kick was not dealt with and Bellamy finished emphatically after cleverly exchanging headers with Helguson.

In the 63rd minute Mauro Formica spurned a glorious opportunity for a second equaliser.

Marshall saved magnificently after Etuhu's shot deflected off King's back but, when Rhodes selflessly cut the loose ball across, the Argentinian attacker should have done far better than to blaze against the top of the bar with the goal at his mercy.

Bellamy departed to applause from all sides of the ground and replacement Mason made the points safe six minutes from time, catching Grant Hanley flat-footed to slip Helguson's flick on beyond Robinson.

Fellow replacement Kim then got in on the act, sweeping home Helguson's return ball after capitalising on a terrible pass from Scott Dann that served to sum up Blackburn's evening.