Isaiah Jones and Emmanuel Latte Lath struck second-half goals to earn Middlesbrough a third Sky Bet Championship triumph in a row and end Cardiff’s winning run.
The Bluebirds had won four in a row before this trip to Teesside but Jones’ first league goal of the season in the 56th minute did the damage before Latte Lath sealed a 2-0 victory with six minutes left.
It had been an otherwise largely uneventful evening at the Riverside Stadium with neither side really dominating proceedings in an attacking sense until those goals.
There was a very tentative start. Neither side wanted to press the other, which meant both defences spent a lot of the time knocking the ball around to each other.
That frustrated the fans initially, and the nearest a player came to threatening in the first 25 minutes was when Ollie Tanner was played into space down Boro’s left side.
Tanner, one of two Cardiff changes to the team that beat Rotherham, burst into the box before his low delivery was spilled in the six-yard box by goalkeeper Seny Dieng and Middlesbrough cleared.
Dieng was also in the right place to hold a routine Ryan Wintle header from 12 yards soon after.
When Sam Greenwood, one of four changes for the hosts from the side that won at Watford, was handed possession deep inside the Cardiff half, the crowd suddenly had something to shout about.
Greenwood, on loan from Leeds, attacked his marker at pace before firing a rasping drive at goal for Jak Alnwick to turn over for a corner after 26 minutes.
That did at least breathe life into the first half. Dieng did brilliantly to make a save from Karlan Grant when the Cardiff winger tried to slot past him after he had been put through.
Cardiff went close soon after the restart too. Tanner curled against the bar from an angle after turning one way and then the other inside the box.
But Middlesbrough went ahead when Lukas Engel, who has had a slow start since signing from Danish side Silkeborg in the summer, drilled a low cross inside the six-yard box for Jones to slide in and finish.
That prompted Cardiff to push on more. Striker Kion Etete was disappointed not to hit the target with a header from a corner.
But in the 84th minute Marcus Forss’ flick on halfway was perfect for Middlesbrough to counter.
Latte Lath’s speed got him away from his marker and even though Mahlon Romeo caught him, the Ivorian’s turn created the opening to apply the cool finish for his second league goal of the season.
After that Dael Fry and Forss went close to adding to Middlesbrough’s lead but Michael Carrick’s men had already done enough to seal the points.