Cardiff City 0 Leeds United 2: Antenucci secures rare away victory for Leeds
Antenucci scored his third goal in two games in injury time to secure a rare away win for Leeds – but the double over Cardiff – after Souleymane Doukara’s first-half effort.
Cardiff’s play-off hopes took a blow and they ended the game with 10 men after Fabio Da Silva was sent off for a second booking on 63 minutes.
But they still went close to snatching a draw as Lex Immers and Ken Zohore struck the woodwork and Leeds goalkeeper Marco Silvestri pulled off a series of saves.
Cardiff were unbeaten in their last 13 games at home yet it was Leeds, without an away win in the league since December, who lead at half-time.
Doukara’s goal shortly before half-time separated the sides though was against the general run of play after Cardiff brought the best out of keeper Silvestri.
Peter Whittingham’s curling free-kick was tipped past the post after a foul on Tom Lawrence.
Lawrence then had Silvestri at full stretch with a first-time shot from the edge of the box.
But it was from the resulting corner that Leeds snatched the lead.
The visitors were happy to play on the counter-attack and Doukara had already forced Matthew Connolly into an early booking for a foul.
And the ploy worked as Antenucci raced up field, Cardiff failed to close down the options, and Doukara slotted home his fifth of the season on 37 minutes.
Immers and Anthony Pilkington both went close before the break and the second-half took just five minutes to spark into life.
Connolly’s misplaced back pass almost gifted Leeds a second but Antenucci’s first effort was cleared by Bruno Manga and second by David Marshall who also denied Liam Bridcutt.
It was the start of a chaotic 15 minutes that saw six cards shown, a dismissal, a penalty claim and both managers handed warnings after clashing on the touchline.
Cardiff had a penalty claim waved away after Connolly’s pass struck Guiseppe Bellusci’s arm in the penalty area and Fabio was shown a yellow card for a foul as Leeds threatened to break clear.
Those two incidents sparked a clash between the rivals managers Slade and Evans who had to be kept apart by their assistants.
That only stoked the atmosphere inside the Cardiff City Stadium and moments later, Fabio was dismissed with a second yellow card in the space of seven minutes for felling Charlie Taylor.
Leeds also had Alex Mowatt and Gaetano Berardi booked as tempers continued to flare.
Cardiff’s frustration only grew as Immers struck the post and Pilkington and Craig Noone had long-range efforts saved and Manga headed over from five yards.
With Cardiff throwing everything at an equaliser, there was no-one to stop Antenucci racing clear in the fourth minute of added time and settling the game with a coolly-struck goal.
Evans said: “The players deserve all the credit for that win. We learned some harsh lessons in the defeat to Brighton but I feel we’ve been in a good place since then.
“Cardiff’s goalkeeper [David Marshall] could have been named man of the match in the first half with some fine saves before half-time and had we got that second goal then we would have won comfortably.
“But people will forget those saves because of Silvestri pulled so many out of the bag in the second half.
“It helps when you have two centre-backs playing so well and the defence working together like that, while you have two strikers who just ran all night. That’s the sort of attitude we need to show when you play for such a famous club.”
Cardiff manager Slade said: “Sometimes the game is cruel. We were knocking on the door all evening and even dominated with 10 men. I’m disappointed with the two goals, especially the first which we should have dealt with comfortably had we been aware.
“But apart from those two lapses in concentration, the attitude was first-class, their goalkeeper was inspired and we didn’t have that ruthlessness to score and get the victory that we deserved.
“We had a stone-wall penalty (for an alleged handball by Giuseppe Bellusci). The player’s arms were out and if that’s not a penalty then I don’t know what the rules are.
“I felt we should have had a penalty and I don’t think he [Steve Evans] agreed but he didn’t have the same view as I had from upstairs.
“Steve is all right, we’ve had the odd run-in before but that’s by-the-by. What was important was that we gave a performance but didn’t get the result.”
Cardiff: Marshall, Da Silva, Ecuele Manga, Connolly, Malone, Lawrence (Ameobi 76), O’Keefe (Zohore 82), Ralls, Whittingham (Noone 63), Immers, Pilkington. Unused substitutes: Morrison, Dikgacoi, Moore, Saadi.
Leeds: Silvestri, Berardi, Bamba, Bellusci, Taylor, Bridcutt (Diagouraga 71), Murphy, Mowatt (Dallas 76), Cook, Antenucci, Doukara (Erwin 86). Unused substitutes: Wootton, Carayol, Botaka, Peacock-Farrell.
Referee: D Deadman (Cambridgeshire).