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South Wales Echo - - FRONT PAGE - IAN MITCHELMORE Foot­ball Writer ian.mitchelmore@waleson­line.co.uk

CARDIFF City moved three points clear at the sum­mit of the Cham­pi­onship as a re­sult of their mag­nif­i­cent 3-1 win over fel­low high-fly­ers Leeds United in the Welsh cap­i­tal.

Here, we look at the main top­ics of dis­cus­sion from the match...

IN­CRED­I­BLE EN­ERGY ONCE AGAIN GETS CARDIFF ON THE FRONT FOOT

In their fi­nal win be­fore the in­ter­na­tional break against Queens Park Rangers, the sheer graft of Ken­neth Zo­hore and Ju­nior Hoi­lett saw the Cana­dian charge down Alex Smithies to net the equaliser against Ian Hol­loway’s side.

And it was Nathaniel Men­dez-Laing’s in­cred­i­ble per­sis­tence that saw him nip in front of Liam Cooper and draw a foul from the Leeds cap­tain, a chal­lenge that earned the de­fender a red card just be­fore the break.

It was sig­nif­i­cant that prior to Cooper’s send­ing off, Zo­hore did his usual graft up top to keep Leeds on the back foot and en­sured Neil Etheridge had as nice an open­ing 45 min­utes as he’ll ever have.

Credit to the goal­keeper, he re­mained alert to make a fine dou­ble save to deny Gae­tano Ber­ardi and then Ezg­jan Alioski in the sec­ond pe­riod, but the 10 men ahead of him put in so much ef­fort that he was rarely tested.

Loic Damour and Craig Bryson put in strong shifts in the cen­tre of the park in the ab­sence of Aron Gun­nars­son and Joe Ralls, but col­lec­tively from one to 11, the Blue­birds re­mained in sync through­out as they sti­fled a Leeds side who suf­fered only their sec­ond league de­feat of the sea­son in south Wales.

JU­NIOR HOI­LETT IS IN THE FORM OF HIS LIFE

“When he plays like that he’s as good as any­one in the league,” Warnock said about man-of-the-match Hoi­lett in his post-match press con­fer­ence.

And it was a truly-mes­meris­ing dis­play from the Cana­dian wide­man who set up Zo­hore for the open­ing goal be­fore si­lenc­ing the trav­el­ling army of Leeds fans with a rocket that saw Cardiff go 2-0 up.

He was beam­ing when put in front of the me­dia both on the pitch and off it after full-time, and it’s no won­der as Hoi­lett is prov­ing on a reg­u­lar ba­sis that he is a player blessed with im­mense tal­ent.

His op­po­site num­ber Men­dez-Laing rightly took a lot of plau­dits after his stun­ning ex­ploits for the Blue­birds in Au­gust, a run of form that earned him the Player of the Month award.

But hav­ing been left out of the start­ing side at Sun­der­land, Hoi­lett en­sured he came back with a bang – and then some – against Leeds with a per­for­mance that will have de­lighted his man­ager.

IF A STATE­MENT HADN’T BEEN MADE BE­FORE, IT HAS NOW

With a bumper crowd in­side Cardiff City Sta­dium and the Sky cam­eras cov­er­ing ev­ery inch of the hal­lowed turf, ev­ery­one was go­ing to get the chance to see what Cardiff and Leeds were all about.

And there’s no doubt the Blue­birds used the plat­form to put on a dis­play that not only proved to their own fans that they are gen­uine pro­mo­tion con­tenders, but it showed the rest of the di­vi­sion that Warnock’s troops mean busi­ness.

The roar of the fans after each goal will stick with those who at­tended the game, while the com­men­taries of Hoi­lett’s stunner and Cardiff’s slick pass­ing move for Zo­hore’s sec­ond will be cher­ished by the ones who watched it all on their TV screens.

Bu,t wher­ever you were, you’ll have taken note at what’s go­ing on at Cardiff. And even though it’s still early days, it’s look­ing like some­thing spe­cial is tak­ing place in the Welsh cap­i­tal.

KEN­NETH ZO­HORE GETS HIS RE­WARDS

It’s been a frus­trat­ing time for the Dane, who has had the most shots out of any player in the Cham­pi­onship this sea­son, but had just one goal to his name prior to the visit of Thomas Chris­tiansen’s side.

But Zo­hore has been piv­otal to Cardiff’s mag­nif­i­cent start to the sea­son, with his run­ning and drive help­ing the Blue­birds’ wingers and mid­field men thrive around him.

As­sisted by Hoi­lett and then cap­tain Sean Mor­ri­son, Zo­hore won’t get many eas­ier goals than he did against Leeds this sea­son.

But it was a case of be­ing in the right place in the right time for the 23-year-old who was fi­nally re­warded for his ef­forts in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion.

He was with­drawn and given a standing ova­tion with 15 min­utes to go, and the Cardiff faith­ful watch­ing on will be lick­ing their lips at the sight of their side at the top of the ta­ble, while safe in the knowl­edge that their star striker is back on the goal trail.

THE AT­MOS­PHERE WAS ELEC­TRIC, NOW LET’S KEEP IT THAT WAY

Given the ri­valry be­tween the two sides, there was al­ways go­ing to be a bumper crowd at Cardiff City Sta­dium.

And more than 27,000 sup­port­ers were there to wit­ness a tru­ly­mem­o­rable Cardiff win against a side who started the evening at the top of the ta­ble.

In his pro­gramme notes, Warnock re­vealed he at­tended a Neil Sedaka con­cert last week, and, after the win over Leeds, the York­shire­man com­mented: “It was funny last week, I was watch­ing him and I thought to my­self what’s he still do­ing it for?

“The fans were bril­liant and I thought I’d put that in the pro­gramme be­cause that’s how I feel. It keeps you go­ing. I asked them to come and it was a fab­u­lous at­mos­phere.”

And fab­u­lous it was. Both sets of fans were mak­ing them­selves heard long be­fore the game even got un­der­way and, with that type of back­ing, Cardiff’s play­ers will rel­ish play­ing any­one in front of their own sup­port­ers.

Cardiff City man­ager Neil Warnock shows how much beat­ing his for­mer club Leeds means to him

Ju­nior Hoi­lett, left, pic­tured after scor­ing Cardiff’s sec­ond goal

Ken­neth Zo­hore (No.10) scores his sec­ond goal of the game in the 3-1 win over Leeds to the de­light of the Cardiff fans in the stands

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