Sol Bamba dedicated his goal and victory to Emiliano Sala after helping Cardiff beat Southampton on Saturday.
Cardiff were playing their first match since it was confirmed that Sala, the club's record signing, was killed in a plane crash.
The striker's body was recovered from underwater wreckage in the English Channel this week following a plane crash last month. Cardiff won 2-1 at St Mary's courtesy of an injury-time Kenneth Zohore strike.
Ivorian defender Bamba, whose goal celebrations were emotional after opening the scoring, told Sky Sports: "It has been a tough couple of weeks. We knew we had to give our all today. It wasn't easy but a performance like this was very pleasing.
"A lot of things were going through my mind. I knew Emiliano. I know he was looking up there. The victory and the goal is for him."
A minute's silence was held before the game, with players gathered around the centre circle while Sala's picture was displayed on the big screen.
Cardiff were given special permission to wear shirts embroidered with a yellow daffodil, the national emblem of Wales and the colour of Sala's former club Nantes. Players in matches across the Premier League wore black armbands.
Tributes were also paid to Sala throughout the Football League, among them Cardiff's great rivals Swansea, who held a minute's silence before their Sky Bet Championship home fixture with Millwall.
"Emiliano was a fabulous lad, and it's appropriate we came down with our black armbands on and put in a performance like that," said Cardiff manager Neil Warnock after his side's victory.
"We could easily have folded, but we were determined. We're limited, but you can't question their character and what they've got under their shirts because they've bags of heart."
Sala signed for Cardiff from Nantes in a club record £15million deal in January. He had been returning to the Welsh capital following a brief trip back to France when the private plane he was travelling in crashed into the sea.
Lincolnshire pilot David Ibbotson remains missing, with his family launching a fundraising appeal to find his body.
Nantes are planning a number of tributes to Sala around their Ligue 1 game against Nimes on Sunday. The club have already retired the number nine shirt in the popular forward's honour and all tickets for the game have been priced at nine euros.
Further tributes include players wearing special shirts, a minute's applause prior to the game and tarpaulin to be placed in the centre circle before kick-off and at half-time. No music will be played immediately before the game as supporters will be encouraged to sing their Sala chants.
Sala had scored 42 goals in 101 league games after joining Nantes in 2015.