Cardiff City will face Portsmouth in next month's FA Cup final after a 1-0 victory over Barnsley in Sunday's semi- final. ( dpa )
Joe Ledley's looping effort after nine minutes was enough to ensure Cardiff will be the first Welsh side to feature in the final since they won the competition in 1927.
The game had been played almost exclusively in the Barnsley half when Cardiff took the lead.
A long throw from the left caused havoc, and as the ball dropped to Ledley, 15 yards out, nobody moved to close him down, allowing him to hook a shot back across goal and in to the top corner.
At that stage it seemed that Barnsley, who slipped into the bottom three of the Championship Saturday, might be in for a hammering, but they rallied, and were probably the better sides for the rest of the half.
Kayode Odejayi, the centre-forward whose goal saw off Chelsea in the last round, had a header cleared off the line as goalkeeper Peter Enckleman came and failed to meet a cross, and then, having done well to meet a low Stephen Foster cross at the near post, he couldn't quite get sufficient purchase on his shot.
Enckleman never looked comfortable against the crossed ball, and he was at fault again after 26 minutes as Istvan Ferenczi also had a header cleared off the line, Trevor Sinclair getting in the way of his goal-bound effort.
If Barnsley had the bulk of the first-half chances, though, the best one, without question, fell to Cardiff.
Steele did well to save Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's low shot from a Gavin Rae cross, but as the ball sprang loose Sinclair seemed to sure to score.
Four metres out, though, he hit his shot straight into the goalkeeper's body, from where it rebounded to safety.
That miss could have haunted him, but there were so many wasted opportunities, it simply took its place in the line.
Perhaps the quality wasn't the highest, but this was an enthralling game that teetered perpetually on a knife-edge.
Odejayi should have equalised 21 minutes into the second half, but set clean through and in acres of space, he shot into the side netting, and then Rae, released by a Foster error, took a heavy touch and found his shot smothered by Steele as he looked to seal the Cardiff victory. For Barnsley, though, the magic that saw them through the last two rounds had run out, and Cardiff live on to uphold Championship honour.