BLUEBIRDS BLOWN AWAY BY FIVE-STAR CHAMPIONS
CARDIFF City remain without a win this season after being convincingly beaten 5-0 by Premier League champions Manchester City.
Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan all netted in the opening half, while substitute Riyad Mahrez bagged a second-half brace as Pep Guardiola’s side delivered a ruthless attacking display against Neil Warnock’s men.
Having fallen behind as early as the eighth minute when they hosted Man City in the FA Cup in January, the Bluebirds contained the visitors well in the opening stages.
But the home fans had their hearts in their mouths in the 12th minute as Aguero broke free on the right before drilling into the box, and captain Sean Morrison was able to breathe a sigh of relief as the ball looped over his own net after striking his standing leg.
To their credit, Cardiff carried a threat on the counter attack, with Victor Camarasa at the heart of most of the rare attacking forays while Danny Ward provided a focal point up top.
But the sheer, unrelenting pace of the visitors caused Cardiff a heap of problems.
And the Citizens almost took the lead in fortuitous circumstances as Sane’s cross was deflected towards goal by Lee Peltier, but Bruno Manga was on hand to rescue the situation by turning over his own net.
The visitors continued to dominate the ball and had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring through Gundogan, who couldn’t keep his effort on target after skipping his way through the Cardiff defence.
But their pressure told in the 32nd minute after a slick move that saw Gundogan pick out Bernardo Silva in the box ended with the Portuguese feeding Aguero to lash beyond Neil Etheridge on the former’s 300th appearance for the club.
And Guardiola’s side were two to the good minutes later as Sane whipped in a teasing cross from a short corner, and Bernardo’s header looped over Etheridge into the back of the net.
The Bluebirds looked for an instant response as Ward tested Ederson from distance, although the Brazilian gathered with ease.
Man City continued to dominate and almost made it 3-0 as Aguero saw his close-range shot saved by the legs of Etheridge before Fernandinho drilled wide from 25 yards out.
But they didn’t have long to wait to extend their advantage as Gundogan played a neat one-two with Sterling on the edge of the box before curling into the top corner to give the reigning champions a commanding lead
at the break. Cardiff were dealt a blow immediately after the restart as Peltier was forced off with a dislocated shoulder – likely to keep him out for two to three months – with Wales international Jazz Richards coming on in his place.
But they had a chance to get back into the game after Reid and Camarasa linked up well before Ward looked to fashion a shot at goal from the edge of the area but the frontman’s curling effort was comfortably dealt with by Ederson.
A goalmouth scramble ensued shortly afterwards as Aguero and Sane both had chances to make it 4-0.
And the latter came within a whisker of getting on the scoresheet as his header from Gundogan’s freekick clipped the outside of Etheridge’s post. Both managers made changes as Guardiola sent on Mahrez for Aguero, while Kenneth Zohore replaced Ward. But it was Man City’s substitute that paid dividends within minutes as the former Leicester City man Mahrez had the simple task of tapping home Gundogan’s cross just six minutes after coming on to the field.
The home faithful continued to sing in the rain from the stands as Man City hit all of the right notes on the pitch.
And Cardiff had Etheridge to thank for limiting the scoreline as the Philippines international made close range saves from Aguero and Mahrez while also doing well to keep out a Sterling free-kick.
Etheridge again did well to stoop low to keep out substitute Phil Foden’s shot in the dying stages, but he was helpless to keep out Mahrez’s second as the Algerian capitalised on Bruno Manga’s mistake in devastating fashion to ensure the Bluebirds suffered their third league defeat on the bounce..
Bluebirds striker Danny Ward tries to shake off Manchester City’s Fernandinho