Leicester manager Nigel Pearson saluted hat-trick hero Chris Wood after the New Zealand striker fired his promotion-chasing side to a 4-0 win at Bristol City.
Wood's first half treble took his goal tally to six in three games since joining the Foxes from West Bromwich Albion after a successful loan spell at Millwall and lifted Leicester up to third in the Championship table in the process.
With Leicester now just two points behind second placed Hull, Pearson's side are starting to dream of promotion to the Premier League and the City boss acknowledged the difference his new signing has made since arriving on New Year's Day.
"Chris Wood has taken his chances for us and scored some early goals, which makes a big difference," Pearson said.
"He is a very focused young player who has fitted in straight away and gives us a height and physical presence up front, which perhaps we lacked.
"It is not easy to sign quality players in January and I am delighted to have secured him early in the window."
Cardiff manager Malky Mackay refused to be downbeat after his team missed a chance to increase their position on top as the leaders were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Ipswich.
Mackay's side are still eight points clear of Hull, beaten 3-1 by Sheffield Wednesday, and 10 ahead of Leicester and the former Watford boss said: "We were playing against a team who are right at the top of the form table with a new manager and some new players coming in.
"They'd only lost two in 10 so if we had not worked as hard as them then we'd have been beaten.
"For us to come out with another clean sheet, our fourth in five games, on the back of 13 points out of 15 I'm delighted."
Crystal Palace boss Ian Holloway admits his club are playing a waiting game over Wilfried Zaha's future after a 1-0 defeat against Burnley.
Zaha has been linked with a move to Manchester United and Tottenham and Holloway, whose side remain in the play-off places, claims he does not know if he will stay at Selhurst Park beyond this month.
"We will wait to see what Wilfried, if he ever does, actually goes for and we can talk about that if and when it happens," Holloway said.
Middlesbrough also suffered a setback in their promotion challenge as play-off hopefuls Watford won 2-1 at the Riverside Stadium.
Czech Republic striker Matej Vydra, on loan from Italian side Udinese, fired home in time first half stoppage-time and struck his second in the 83rd minute to ensure Watford consolidated their play-off place.
Australian forward Scott McDonald got one back for Middlesbrough in stoppage-time.
Millwall are two points outside the play-off places after a 1-1 draw at Bolton.
Andy Keogh converted a ninth minute penalty for Lions, but Keith Andrews levelled with a 34th minute spot-kick.
Elsewhere, Barnsley climbed off the bottom with a 2-0 win over Yorkshire rivals Leeds at Oakwell, while Alex McLeish secured his first win as Nottingham Forest manager, a 2-1 success against struggling Peterborough at the City Ground.
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