Reading stayed top of the Sky Bet Championship as they maintained their perfect record at the start of new coach Veljko Paunovic's reign by beating Cardiff 2-1 in Wales.
Both sides had records to put straight - Cardiff had not beaten the Royals in their last nine clashes in all competitions, while Reading arrived having won just one of their last nine away league matches in the Welsh capital.
Cardiff boss Neil Harris gave left-back Greg Cunningham his first start for the Bluebirds since January 2019, when they were in the Premier League, and also drafted Wales international Will Vaulks into the midfield.
Paunovic made one change from the team that had beaten Barnsley, bringing goalscorer Yahou Meite into the starting line-up.
It was the specialist long throws from Vaulks that caused the biggest problems for Reading in the early stages, while a long ball from half-way by skipper Liam Moore allowed Meite to use his pace to nip in between two defenders and force Alex Smithies into the first save of the game.
Reading thought they had a good claim for a penalty in the 35th minute when Michael Olise was sandwiched between Sean Morrison and Jordi Osei-Tutu, but referee David Webb merely waved play on.
The visitors came on strong in the final 10 minutes of the opening half and Lucas Joao headed just wide from a corner swung in from the left, and then twisted and turned on the edge of the area before firing a left-footed shot that forced Smithies to dive full length.
Having taken the upper hand at the end of the first half, Reading maintained their pressure and hit the front within 70 seconds of the restart.
Olise swung in a free-kick from the left and centre-back Michael Morrison met it perfectly on the edge of the six-yard box to head home.
Cardiff responded with their best move of the game, with Osei-Tutu and Marlon Pack setting up Vaulks for a shot from the edge of the area that whistled past the left hand upright.
Lee Tomlin replaced Vaulks just after the hour and, with virtually his first touch, fired in a shot that cannoned off the goalscorer Morrison and forces Rafael to save acrobatically with his feet.
Reading then killed the game off with a second goal a few minutes later when Josh Laurent played in the dangerous Joao, who held off Nelson, twisted onto his left foot and fired home from near the penalty spot.
Tomlin grabbed a consolation goal for the Bluebirds nine minutes from time when he prodded into the net after a Kieffer Moore header from a corner.
What the managers said...
Cardiff's Neil Harris: "The frustrating thing for me is we've conceded four goals at home, and look at the goals. We have to learn. The first goal against Sheffield Wednesday we gave the ball away cheaply and the second came from a set play.
"Then today the first goal was from a set play and the second was from us giving the ball away cheaply in the middle of the park. That's what hurts. We were the better team, we created the better chances, got more balls in the box, had more set plays and we lost the game. After Sheffield Wednesday I questioned their focus, but not today. If we want to be a top-six side, we can't give away poor goals."
Reading's Veljko Paunovic: "Lucas Joao's injury doesn't look good, but we will wait for the doctor's assessment. He dislocated his shoulder, but it soon went back in. We will see how it progresses, but injuries seem to be a never-ending story. Things like this happen, and you can't control them, so it is a case of next man up.
"The win reflects the spirit and the team did very well. The identity is still forging, but we have a game plan and we stick to it. We adjusted to get through difficult moments. It was very even in the first half, but we finally opened up the game and it changed when he got the first goal and then another good goal to increase the advantage.
"I'm proud because we didn't lose our composure when we were under the pressure in the end. We showed a warrior spirit. I wish I could show you the excitement in the dressing room. Three wins in a row is fantastic, but we haven't won anything yet and we will continue with the same approach - recover, prepare and go again. The start is not a surprise to me. I always believed in the best possible outcome and in those around me."