Cardiff 2 Wolves 0
Early goals from Peter Whittingham and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink moved Cardiff into the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 81 years with victory over Wolves.
Only two minutes had passed at Ninian Park when Whittingham broke the offside trap to race onto Hasselbaink’s pass and fire under goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.
Whittingham returned the favour nine minutes later when he laid the ball back to the former Chelsea striker, who rifled a trademark shot into the top corner.
Wanderers rarely threatened the City goal as they put in a disappointing performance which will increase the pressure on manager Mick McCarthy.
City, meanwhile, were left to reflect on a place in the last eight for the first time since 1927 – the year they became the only non-English side to ever lift the trophy.
Bluebirds boss Dave Jones recalled skipper Stephen McPhail for the injured Joe Ledley, while there was no place in the Wolves side for former FA Cup finalist Darren Ward as McCarthy made five changes.
Seyi Olofinjana, Michael Gray, Jay Bothroyd, Darren Potter and Jody Craddock, making his first appearance since November, were all drafted in.
Goal difference alone may separate the two sides in the Coca-Cola Championship, but there was a marked gulf in class between them right from the whistle.
One nervous touch from Kevin Foley within the opening seconds set the tone and soon the home side went ahead.
Wanderers’ defence was punished for playing too high a line as they were caught flat-footed by Hasselbaink’s clever through ball from the half-way line.
The unmarked Whittingham strolled through the middle and calmly stroked home.
And nine minutes later those defensive deficiencies were highlighted again as City doubled the advantage.
There was no sign of either Wolves full-back as Cardiff countered, swiftly switched the ball from the right flank to the left.
Craddock and Gary Breen were left exposed as Paul Parry found Whittingham at the back post and he cut back for Hasselbaink to fire exquisitely into the top-left corner.
Parry almost made it three soon after when his arcing shot flew narrowly over the crossbar, while teenage midfielder Aaron Ramsey looked set to pounce when Wales international Hennessey spilled a shot from long range.
Kevin Kyle threatened in a rare Wolves attack but his header was over the crossbar.
Wanderers may have won 3-2 in the league at Ninian Park earlier this season but the chances of a repeat scoreline looked remote.
Wales striker Freddy Eastwood was brought on for Olofinjana as half-time approached as McCarthy attempted to swing the tie back in his side’s favour.
The visitors, who last reached the quarter-finals five years ago when Jones was in charge, began brightly after the break and it took Roger Johnson’s clearance off the line to prevent them halving the deficit.
However, their back four continued to look vulnerable and twice in quick succession Hennessey had to be out quickly to deny Parry.
McCarthy went for broke as he used up his remaining substitutions with half an hour still to go, Darron Gibson and Stephen Elliott coming on for Kyle and Foley.
They enjoyed far more possession in the second period with the home side content to soak up the pressure and strike on the counter.
Hennessey still remained the busier of the two goalkeepers though and he had to be down quickly to deny Whittingham a second.
Man of the match Hasselbaink was replaced to a standing ovation with 12 minutes left.
A similar reception was given to substitute Trevor Sinclair as he made his long-awaited return shortly before the final whistle as City were left to dream about further cup success.