City get off to a winning start with a late Zohore strike.
Kenneth Zohore crushed Burton Albion’s resistance with a late goal to give Cardiff City an opening day victory.
The Dane, Cardiff’s top scorer last season, had seen an early effort ruled out for off-side and then found Burton keeper Stephen Bywater in fine form.
But with three minutes left Zohore held off two defenders to curl a shot home.
Burton could have led in the first half when Marvin Sordell’s goal-bound shot was blocked, but had to thank Bywater after half-time as Cardiff dominated.
Luck had not been with Nigel Clough’s side this week with Liam Boyce suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury that will keep the striker out for most of the season.
But Burton were thankful to survive an early scare when Zohore pulled away at the back post to turn in Joe Bennett’s cross, only to be flagged for off-side.
Zohore had an even better chance after being played through by Lee Tomlin, but shot wide across Bywater’s goal.
Burton should have scored as the game sparked to life just before the break, only for Sol Bamba’s last-ditch tackle to deny Sordell from Lloyd Dyer’s pull-back.
Cardiff started the second half with more urgency and – cheered on by 1,700 travelling fans in a 5,050 crowd at the Pirelli Stadium – soon created a chance for Junior Hoilett, whose shot deflected just wide of the near post.
From the resulting corner Bywater pulled off a fine save to stop Bamba’s powerful effort. The defender was proving a real nuisance for Albion and Bamba again got free from a free-kick, but headed straight at Bywater.
The Bluebirds turned the screw as Cardiff boss Neil Warnock made attack-minded changes and Hoilett’s header was deflected wide, Zohore’s shot was tipped over and Mendez-Laing blazed wide when well placed.
But just as Albion, again tipped as one of the relegation favourites, looked to have battled to a point, Zohore bullied his way into the area to give Warnock a perfect start to his 50th year in football.
Burton manager Nigel Clough:
“In the second half they put us under a lot of pressure. They put a lot of balls into the box and it has taken a brilliant finish to beat us in the end.
“There is not much you can do when someone rifles one in the bottom corner from 20-odd yards out.
“I thought for the way we defended we deserved a point and I thought we dealt with things very well and we missed our opportunity in the first half if anything.”
Cardiff manager Neil Warnock told BBC Radio Wales Sport:
“It’s a great way to start and you could see the optimism, the fans were fantastic today and kept us at it. The volume was unbelievable.
“I tried to be positive with my changes, I made positive subs, because I wanted us to try and win the game.
“I felt at half-time we had to do a little bit more going forward… I think the changes helped with that.”
GK – Etheridge 6
FB – Manga 6.5
CB – Morrison 6.5
CB – Bamba 6.5
FB – Peltier 6.5
M – Hoilett 7
M – Gunnarsson 8
M – Ralls 6
M – Bennett 7
AM – Tomlin 6.5
A – Zohore 7
Mendez – Laing (65 mins) 7
Damour (65 mins) 7
Ward (80 Mins) 6