CARDIFF 2 (Bellamy 66, Whittingham 71 pen) UNITED 1 (Austin 76)
Cardiff: Marshall, Taylor, McNaughton, Connolly, Hudson, Whittingham, Mutch (Gunnarsson 75), Noone (Bellamy 63), Smith, Maynard (Cowie 81), Helguson Subs: Lewis, Bo-Kyung, Nugent,, Mason.
United: Kenny, Peltier, Lees, Pearce, Drury (Diouf 46), Byram, Tonge, Austin, White, McCormack (Varney 6, Poleon 83), Becchio. Subs: Ashdown, Kisnorbo, Brown, Gray.
Referee: P Tierney
Booked: Smith (Cardiff), Austin, Tonge (Leeds)
Att: 23,836 (1800 Leeds)
United manager Neil Warnock handed a debut to new loan signing Michael Tonge in the centre of the park, while Luke Varney dropped down the bench with Sam Byram and Aidy White taking up the wide midfield roles.
But Varney was involved inside the opening seven minutes when, worryingly, Ross McCormack left the field with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
And the sub had an early shot blocked after Sam Byram did well down the right and delivered a cross into the box. That was in the 12th minute, and by then United had to deal with a couple of threats from the home side with balls into the box.
Chances were at a premium during a bitty opening half hour with neither side really taking a grip on proceedings. Paddy Kenny did have a couple of balls to collect, one an effort from distance from Heidar Helguson which the United keeper dealt with comfortably.
The first half had largely been a stop-start affair, littered with stoppages, and there was little fluidity about the game.
Cardiff did head over, following a corner, in the first of the three minutes of stoppage time, and Varney looked to latch on to a long ball as Leeds broke, but there was little else before the whistle went to end a half completely devoid of entertainment.
El-Hadji Diouf replaced Adam Drury at the start of the second half while Leeds were looking solid, in terms of entertainment value, they game was crying out for a spark, and Kenny had to save from close range at the start of the half. Jordan Mutch also sent a shot wide for the home side.
When the hosts threatened again, Jason Pearce made a good block to avert the danger, and when Leeds came forward the referee's whistle brought a halt to proceedings as Luciano Becchio looked to forge a chance. A close offside call also denied Diouf when he volleyed over the bar.
Cardiff threatened again with a ball from deep into the box while Varney drilled a cross into the six-yard box which was cleared. And Tommy Smith wasted the best chance of the game shortly after the hour when he volleyed over from close range.
Kenny also had to save well when Mark Hudson found space in the box and attempted to steer a header wide of the United keeper.
But Cardiff were in front in on 66 minutes when Craig Bellamy drilled home an angled free-kick from the edge of the box after Michael Tonge was booked for a foul. The former Liverpool man unleashed an unstoppable strike which left Kenny with no chance.
Five minutes later, Cardiff had an opportunity to double that advantage when Tom Lees was adjudged to have given away a penalty. Peter Whittingham stepped up to take the spot kick and his cool left foot finish made it 2-0.
But Leeds did get back in it on 76 minutes when Rodolph Austin levelled with a long range free-kick. Like Bellamy, the Jamaican international picked his spot, the bottom left hand corner, and drilled the ball beyond the flailing dive of David Marshall.
The Cardiff keeper was called upon again moments later to clear an Aidy White cross when both Becchio and Varney were advancing dangerously. At the other end, Kenny got down well to deny Smith, who drilled in a low shot from distance.
But United fashioned out another chance with less than five minutes on the clock when Austin found space on the right and picked out Peltier with a great cross. The skipper got up well, but his header was over the top.
That proved to be the last meaningful action of the game as United's frustrating record at Cardiff continued.