West Brom’s attempt to boost their Sky Bet Championship play-off hopes was shaken in a 1-1 draw in unassuming Cardiff.
Daryl Dike celebrated his return to the USA squad with a serene 17th-minute finish that gave Albion optimism they could end a five-game losing streak with a win.
But Cardiff underscored their improvement under Sabri Lamouchi, their third manager of the season, when substitute Sory Kaba headed in an equalizer with 25 minutes remaining.
The result left West Brom in eighth place and five points clear of Millwall in the final play-off spot, with Cardiff in 21st place, four points above the relegation zone.
Albion could have been ahead within two minutes when Leicester’s loan wideman Marc Albrighton delivered a cross of genuine Premier League quality.
The ball was just inches too high for Dike to go unmarked when Cardiff breathed a sigh of relief.
Sheyi Ojo and Jaden Philogene were both sidelined as the Bluebirds moved, but West Brom soon hit the front.
Jed Wallace was allowed space on the right to pick up a cross that Dike volleyed to the near post, just hours after being called up to USA’s CONCACAF Nations League squad.
The omens were bad for a Cardiff that had not recovered from a goal against to win a game for 11 months.
But Cardiff were almost level five minutes later when Callum O’Dowda’s shot deflected off Dara O’Shea and across the penalty area.
Isaak Davies was waiting at the far post, but the striker had to reach for the ball and was unable to test Josh Griffiths in the away goal.
John Swift missed the chance to double the visitors’ lead when he struck a free-kick from a promising position over the Cardiff crossbar.
The half ended with O’Shea in the right place to head Ryan Wintle’s powerful shot and West Brom started the second half in spirited fashion.
Okay, Yokuslu and Jayson Molumby combined for Wallace to force Ryan Allsop into a spectacular save.
Adam Reach replaced Dike just before the hour mark and immediately made his way towards him.
Cardiff equalized on 65 minutes when substitute Kaba, sent off at half-time for Davies, was met by Wintle’s cross with enough power to beat Griffiths.
The Albion goalkeeper lent him a hand, but the ball slipped over the line for the Guinea striker’s third goal since moving on January deadline day from Danish club Midtjylland.
Albion responded instantly with a quick effort from distance that Allsop pushed back into the path of Reach, who finished well but was clearly in an offside position.
Philogene saw an effort well saved and Wallace blasted a deflected shot the other way when both sides failed to find a winner that would have meant so much.