Manchester City put on a display worthy of champions as the swept Cardiff aside on a wet Saturday afternoon in South Wales. Sergio Aguero scored on his 300th appearance for the club, while Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and two goals from Riyad Mahrez completed the rout against the Premier league newcomers.
The blues lost on their last Premier League visit to Cardiff, and Pep Guardiola’s side, still smarting from Wednesday’s defeat at home to Lyon, were in no mood to allow a repeat of that result and took control of the game from the first minute, although it took 32 minutes for the blues to score.
The warning signs had been there for Cardiff, especially after the impressive Gundogan carved out a chance for himself before hammering his shot over the bar. Cardiff would not get another reprieve and it was the lethal Argentine striker who got it. Gundogan was instrumental in the build-up and the German played in Silva on the right. His low cross into the box was swept home expertly by Aguero for him to add another to his ever growing tally.
Three minutes later it was 2-0 as Silva got himself on the scoresheet. Leroy Sane’s cross found the Portugese midfielder, and the shortest man on the field flicked a clever header over the defence and into the back of the net. The blues were cruising and it was no surprise they went in 3-0 up at the break.
Ilkay Gundogan had come under severe criticism in the summer, was booed by his own German supporters prior to the World Cup and received the most criticism following Wednesday’s match against Lyon. But the German was in fine form and played a superb one-two with Sane before drilling a right foot past the keeper to make it 3-0. Shortly after his goal, the German was on the receiving end of a hard tackle, but unlike Sane from last season’s FA Cup tie, Gundogan was able to play on and the Cardiff man went into the book.
The last time City won in the league at Cardiff was 3-0 on 22nd September 1984, and the fans would have settled for the same scoreline. But Guardiola and City had other ideas and wanted to improve their goal difference for the season.
But it was the home side who got the first shot of the second half on target, with Ederson finally being called into action, making a save from Danny Ward’s shot. The blues continued to press until Aguero was substituted in the 61st minute for Mahrez, and it took him just six minutes on the pitch to finally score his first goal for the blues.
City poured forward and it was Gundogan who was the provider, making an inch perfect cross for Mahrez to sweep past the keeper and make it 4-0. That would be the German’s last contribution to the match as he left the field to be replaced by Phil Foden. The Stockport youngster had twenty minutes to show what he could do, and almost set up Silva for his second and City’s fifth of the afternoon, with the latter blasting the chance over the bar.
The compliment was almost repaid in the 87th minute as the two again combined. Silva’s pass was taken by Foden, but the youngster’s shot was well saved by the keeper. But the blues still had time to score number five and it was Mahrez who got his second. The Algerian picked up a loose ball, sold a dummy to the Cardiff defender, then unleashed a curling shot which gave the keeper no chance and send City home with a 5-0 victory.
The result sees City sit in second place in the league, just two points behind leaders Liverpool, and that match at Anfield is getting ever closer.
Cardiff: Etherdige, Peltier (Richards 51), Morrison, Ecuele Manga, Cunningham, Holiett (Murphy 75), Camarasa, Ralls, Arter, Reid, Ward (Zohore 63)
City: Ederson, Walker, Laporte, Otamendi, Delph, Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho (Stones 74), Gundogan (Foden 69), Sterling, Aguero (Mahrez 61), Sane
Referee: Michael Oliver