If Christian Benteke wants some tips on how to rediscover his goalscoring touch, he could do worse than pop round to see his neighbour. Leandro Bacuna, Aston Villa's free-kick specialist, lives next door and has now scored twice since the man who tells him to turn his music down last celebrated a goal – which was back in the middle of September.
Both Bacuna's goals have been exquisite free-kicks which contributed to Villa's two home league wins of the season, and had Paul Lambert bending over backwards to avoid commenting on comparisons with the sort of dead balls David Beckham used to strike. Signed for less than £1m from Groningen in the summer, versatile and only 22, Bacuna is starting to look like a shrewd acquisition on the Villa manager's part.
If it is unclear where Bacuna's best position is at the moment – Lambert has used him on both sides of the pitch and played him as a full-back as well as a midfielder – there is no doubt that the Dutchman possesses a special talent. The free-kick he scored in the 3-2 victory over Manchester City in September ended up in the top left-hand corner, while the 30-yard curling shot that beat David Marshall here found the other side of the goal.
The chances are that Bacuna's card will now be marked by Premier League goalkeepers, although that possibility does not seem to faze him in the slightest, such is the confidence he has in his technique and placement. "People will be watching. But with a free-kick it's difficult. If you take it well, for the keeper it's the same as a penalty – the ball is faster than the keeper," he said.
Bacuna could be forgiven for thinking that it is a matter of time before penalties also come his way, although that may involve a slightly awkward conversation with his neighbour, who has missed twice from the spot this season. "The gaffer makes the decisions and Christian's been taking the penalties. I won't go there and start a fight," Bacuna said. "I was taking penalties in Holland [where he had a 100% success rate], but I only just came to Aston Villa."
This was an important three points for an Aston Villa side who had failed to win in their previous four matches and gone 451 minutes without scoring before Bacuna's effort.
Libor Kozak, a £7m signing from Lazio, scored Villa's second six minutes from time to put the game beyond Cardiff. While Villa are looking much tighter at the back – this was a fourth clean sheet in seven league matches – they continue to struggle to break teams down because of their lack of creativity.
Malky Mackay's side enjoyed a greater share of possession but showed little ambition and seemed content to settle for a point from the outset.
With Manchester United and Arsenal to come in their next two matches, the Cardiff manager may come to regret not being a bit more adventurous against a Villa side who came into the game short of confidence and without the services of four key players.
"We've got a great team spirit – we're enjoying every game and there's lots of positive thoughts going forward," Steven Caulker, the Cardiff captain, said. "We just need to try and score a few more goals and see where it take us, but the mood is good and we did feel we could have got something today. To be honest, we thought we had the legs on them going into the last 20 minutes, but a class goal changed things."
Man of the match Leandro Bacuna (Aston Villa)