BLUE­BIRDS BLOWN AWAY BY FIVE-STAR CHAM­PI­ONS

Wales On Sunday - - SPORT ON SUNDAY - IAN MITCHELMORE Foot­ball Writer ian.mitchelmore@waleson­line.co.uk

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

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