Cardiff resisted intense pressure to secure only their second Premier League point away from home this season in a goalless draw at Crystal Palace.
The Bluebirds were hammered 5-1 by Manchester United on Saturday and could have lost just as heavily at Selhurst Park but goalkeeper Neil Etheridge’s resilience, Palace’s unconvincing finishing and some desperate defending earned them a point.
Roy Hodgson’s team came into the match on the back of a 3-2 win at defending champions Manchester City, but if they finally felt in position to push up the table they wasted the finest of opportunities against opponents who offered little in the attacking third.
Cardiff manager Neil Warnock made five changes to his starting XI from the side thrashed by Manchester United, dropping Harry Arter, Josh Murphy, Aron Gunnarsson, Callum Paterson and Greg Cunningham.
Lee Peltier, Joe Bennett, Joe Ralls, Kadeem Harris and Bobby Reid were called in to replace them, while Palace made just one change as Cheikhou Kouyate came in for Jeffrey Schlupp.
Palace’s confidence was high and Andros Townsend directed an effort at the crossbar in the second minute after good work from Wilfried Zaha.
The influential forward – perhaps with a point to prove against the club where he had once struggled on loan — then created a shooting opportunity of his own from the edge of the area, firing wide of the left post.
A fine chance fell to Kouyate when Sean Morrison’s attempt to cut out Max Meyer’s cross came kindly to him almost directly in front of goal, but he lifted the ball harmlessly over the crossbar.
The lack of a reliable striker has consistently proved Palace’s biggest weakness – and made the victory at City all the more remarkable – but when Connor Wickham was introduced as a substitute for only his second appearance of the season they posed a different threat.
Zaha played the ball towards James McArthur and he in turn fed Wickham, finally providing a focal point, but he shot wide on his return in front of his home crowd after two injury-disrupted seasons.
Milivojevic’s curling free-kick struck the left-hand post and then Cardiff were denied when Mamadou Sakho’s header gifted Harris the chance to shoot and force Vicente Guaita into a point-blank save.
Palace’s finest chance came when Zaha raced through on goal in the 86th minute, but just as he prepared to shoot when moving one-on-one with Etheridge, Bruno Ecuele Manga stretched to make the match-saving challenge that earned a second draw on the Bluebirds’ travels.