Championship leaders Norwich marked Daniel Farke's 150th game in charge with a battling 2-0 victory over Cardiff to ensure they will be top at Christmas.
Emi Buendia (27) and Todd Cantwell (70) both found the back of the net with fine strikes from outside the area to beat a resilient Bluebirds and keep the Canaries on course for an immediate return to the Premier League.
Norwich did pass up numerous opportunities to add to their two goals, while the closest Cardiff came was a Sean Morrison header moments before half-time, which was brilliantly kept out by Michael McGovern.
The result puts Norwich five points clear of Bournemouth in second and seven ahead of Swansea in third, Cardiff remain 10th on 29 points.
After a drab start the game sparked into life 18 minutes in. Kenny McLean was the first to go close, meeting Buendia's ball into the box and directing his header inches wide of the post after a smart run into the box. There was another warning sign for the visitors when Teemu Pukki dragged the ball wide from a Cantwell pass, but Farke's men did take the lead before the half-hour mark.
Buendia picked the ball up midway inside the Cardiff half, drove to the edge of the D with the ball at his feet and made no mistake as he fired the ball into the bottom corner. A fantastic finish from the Argentine as he took advantage of some non-existent defending.
Cardiff have scored 12 goals from set-pieces in the Championship this season and looked dangerous throughout the first half. Much to Farke's frustration, his side continued to give silly free-kicks and cheap corners away.
Michael McGovern had nearly let a Morrison header squirm over the line moments before Norwich took the lead, however he made a wonderful save to keep them ahead shortly before half-time. Harry Wilson's ball into the back post was met by the Cardiff skipper, only for McGovern to throw out a strong right hand and somehow keep it out of the net.
The second half saw Norwich take control of the game and create numerous opportunities to put the result to bed before they actually did.
Pukki, whose partner gave birth overnight, was the first guilty party. Just seconds into the half, he got his attempted lob following an intercepted Marlon Pack back pass all wrong and saw it bounce harmlessly into the stands.
They then missed three chances in three minutes on the hour-mark. Firstly Mario Vrancic scuffed a right-footed effort wide after Buendia found him in the box, then the Argentine was thwarted by Alex Smithies diving at full stretch to his right and finally Vrancic's fierce drive from the edge of the box flew inches past the left-hand post.
But Cantwell made sure it was to be a merry Christmas in Norfolk with a rasping drive on 70 minutes. He picked the ball up in space, found no Cardiff defenders willing to close him down and blasted the ball into the top corner and beyond Smithies.
There was still time for another Pukki effort to be deflected into the arms of Smithies as he looked for a goal, while Buendia nearly finished off a stunning, one-touch Norwich move in the final 10 minutes, only to see his strike whistle just over the bar.
It was a deserved victory for the Canaries and with 11 of the last 12 teams to top the second tier at Christmas going onto earn promotion, they look well-placed to bounce back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. For Cardiff, there is still work to be done if they are to push on and win a play-off place following defeats to Swansea and Norwich within a week of each other.
Norwich City: McGovern, Aarons (Tettey 90+2), Hanley, Zimmermann, Sorensen, Skipp, McLean, Cantwell, Vrančić (Stiepermann 81), Buendía (Dowell 84), Pukki (Hugill 90+2).
Subs not used: Barden, Omobamidele, Rupp, Martin, Omotoye.
Cardiff City: Smithies, Bacuna, Morrison (C), Nelson, Cunningham, Pack (Hoilett 66), Vaulks, Ralls, Ojo (Harris 77), Wilson, Glatzel.
Subs not used: Phillips, Bamba, Benković, Bagan, Patten, Whyte, Zimba.