Matchwinner Antony Gardner believes Crystal Palace are well placed to reach the Carling Cup final after Tuesday night's 1-0 success at Selhurst Park.

33422 - Crystal Palace buoyed by first leg lead

Gardner's 43rd-minute goal gave Palace victory over Championship rivals Cardiff in the semi-final, first leg.

The central defender said: "It was a good team performance. It was intense. You could see out there it was fiery game.

"Both teams came to win the game and it was a good cup tie. We'll get ready for the second leg now and hopefully we can go there and get a win.

"There's no reason why we can't. We are a very confident bunch of lads who have beaten some good teams along the way. We're looking to do the business there."

On his goal, a header following a Darren Ambrose free-kick, Gardner added on Sky Sports: "He is always going to put the ball on the money, his free-kicks are dangerous."

Palace boss Dougie Freedman hailed the character of his team in a week when a virus has swept through Selhurst Park.

Freedman said: "We showed character and determination. Antony was fantastic defensively - his qualities are there to be seen - but we all worked hard for the clean sheet.

"It might be the crucial goal. We have got a team set up to win away from home. We'll go there quietly confident and it'll be a very interesting game."

Bluebirds boss Malky Mackay was unimpressed with referee Mike Dean's decision to rule out a Cardiff equaliser.

Kenny Miller headed in from a corner in the second half but Dean had already whistled, apparently for a foul on Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni.

The Scot explained: "The referee not giving a goal is a surprise to me.

"I've looked at it again and again, maybe he has got in his mind he should have given a goal-kick rather than a corner and tried to rectify that.

"But he's had an absolute howler with that one. You don't level one thing up with goes on.

"So I'm disappointed with that but there's still all to play for. I thought to a man we were tremendous tonight and overall I'm very proud of them.

"I thought we dominated play, were very bright and had countless chances, but it's only half-time now.

"We'll bring them back to Cardiff City Stadium now and we're going to have a right good go, don't worry about that."'