BOSS Neil Harris backed squabbling Callum Paterson and Leandro Bacuna after Cardiff team-mates separated them during an astonishing flare-up in Forest’s crucial victory.
Bacuna seemed to grab Paterson’s throat – and tensions between the two almost turned into a full-blown scuffle at the end after Tiago Silva’s close-range winner all but killed off the Bluebirds’ play-off hopes.
But Harris said: “Pato and Leo have come into the changing room cuddling.They weren’t smiling but understanding the frustration.
“It’s a passionate game and they are passionate players. In the heat of the moment, I’ve got no problem with that.
“It can be boiled down to the fact we didn’t win the game.”
Portuguese midfielder Silva broke his side’s ten-year winless hoodoo in Cardiff to put them just three points behind Leeds in second.
FOREST CAUGHT THEM COLD
And Forest boss Sabri Lamouchi said: “It’s a huge, massive result. Cardiff are tough to play against.
“We know their way, players, manager, stadium and pitch. It’s so difficult and not a lot of teams win here.
“My players know better than me that this win is a massive result.
“It’s not just about the three points but the clean sheet and our mentality. It will give us more energy.”
Dion Sanderson, nephew of Olympic gold medallist javelin thrower Tessa, was handed his first league start to spearhead Cardiff’s attacking threat from right-back.
But it was Forest’s Sammy Ameobi who almost made an instant impact in the seventh minute after pouncing on Joe Bennett’s sliced clearance.
He cut in from the right and shot towards the near post but hit the side-netting.
The hosts responded with a spell of heavy pressure only to see Forest carve out two gilt-edge chances.
Lewis Grabban dragged a shot wide after taking Joe Lolley’s low cross and Matty Cash crossed for Ameobi, whose shot was well saved by Alex Smithies.
A clumsy challenge at the back from Cash on Josh Murphy should have resulted in a Cardiff penalty but referee Steve Martin waved away the protests.
And the Welshmen appeared to still be licking their wounds when Forest caught them cold on 49 minutes.
Ben Watson won the ball in midfield before Silva sprayed a pass to Grabban out wide.
And the striker waited for the Portuguese star to charge into the box before finding him with a cross that he calmly fired beyond Smithies.
Only some heroic defending from Bennett denied Forest sub Alfa Semedo late on as the promotion hopefuls sent a message to their rivals by inflicting a first home defeat on Harris.