The 34-year-old midfielder, whose career has been beset by injury problems, put the hosts ahead before debutant Sammy Ameobi doubled their advantage.
Aron Gunnarsson's seventh goal of the campaign reduced the deficit after the break but there was no way back for Cardiff.
George Boyd scored twice on his home debut as Hull moved into second place in the Championship following an impressive 5-2 win over Birmingham.
Blackburn were blown away by a first-half Dwight Gayle hat-trick before Peterborough withstood a second-half fightback to climb off the bottom of the Championship with a 3-2 win.
Leonardo Ulloa grabbed a sparkling hat-trick to keep Brighton's play-off bid on track as they cantered past Huddersfield with a 4-1 win.
Bolton withstood a Barnsley fightback to triumph 3-2 at Oakwell, with Craig Dawson's 59th-minute strike into the top-right corner settling the contest.
Charlie Austin ended Burnley's goal drought in sensational fashion as Sean Dyche's side recorded a 1-0 victory at Charlton for their first win in seven attempts.
David McGoldrick's 85th-minute goal secured a vital 1-0 victory for relegation-threatened Ipswich and dealt a blow to Leicester's promotion aspirations.
Tom Heaton's superb save helped Bristol City earn a vital point in their battle for Championship survival as they drew 0-0 at Blackpool.