Manchester City Cruises Past Cardiff City Into Fifth Round of FA Cup

Manchester City cruised past Cardiff 2-0 Sunday to secure their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup. 
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Manchester City swept aside 3rd-placed Championship side Cardiff 2-0 at the Cardiff City Stadium to secure their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup. 

Kevin De Bruyne gave the Citizens the lead in the 8th minute with an inch-perfect free-kick, before Raheem Sterling's 37th minute header ensured a deserved victory for Guardiola's side.

Neil Warnock made two enforced changes from last Saturday's goalless draw at Sheffield Wednesday. Callum Patterson came in for the injured Sol Bamba at centre-back, while Nathaniel Mendez-Laing took the place of cup-tied Norwich loanee Yanic Wildschut on the right wing.

Pep Guardiola made four changes from Tuesday's semi-final Carabao Cup 3-2 victory over Bristol City: Danilo and Vincent Kompany started ahead of Oleksandr Zinchenko and John Stones in defence, and Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan returned to the starting lineup with David Silva and Sergio Aguero both dropping to the bench. 

The Premier League leaders carved out their first opportunity three minutes into the game. De Bruyne's cross from the right found Silva at the front post, the Portuguese international tried to poke it towards goal but the ball flicked off his boot and fell harmlessly into the hands of Etheridge. 

Two minutes later and the visitors came close again. Danilo drove down the left wing and cut the ball back to Gundogan on the edge of Cardiff's box, the midfielder flicked it past Morrison but his subsequent shot was straight at Etheridge and the Bluebird's stopper palmed it away. 

In the resulting scramble, a free-kick was awarded to City 20 yards out on the left of the Cardiff box. De Bruyne lined it up and rolled the ball under the jumping wall and into the bottom right corner for the game's opening goal.

Cardiff were inches away from equalising in the 15th minute from a Bravo mistake, after the Chilean spilt Hoilett's speculative strike from range but just managed to drop on the ball before it crossed the line. 

City thought they had scored their second goal in the 25th minute, but Bernardo Silva's thunderous strike was eventually ruled out for offside. The linesman had adjudged that Sane was standing in an offside position and interfering with play, however, the replays proved that the German was onside and the goal should have been awarded - VAR was not in use for the game. 

10 minutes later and the league leaders deservedly doubled their lead. The lively Bernardo Silva whipped over a delightful cross from the left, and an unmarked Sterling planted his header into the ground and past Etheridge from six yards out. 

Guardiola made one change at half-time, with Sergio Aguero replacing Sane - who may have suffered an injury. 

Sterling nearly grabbed his second and Manchester City's third goal of the game in the 53rd minute. De Bruyne's excellent through ball sent the 23-year-old scampering in behind the Cardiff defence, the England international poked the ball past the onrushing Etheridge but Morrison got back just in time to make a vital goal-saving tackle. 

Cardiff were inches away from halving the deficit in the 68th minute. Hoilett made a surging run down the left before he cut back onto his right foot and curled a shot just over the bar from 25 yards out. 

Sterling should have put the game to bed in the 75th minute. De Bruyne played another delightful through ball from just inside his own half, the ball curled around Morrison and into Sterling's path, the City forward tried to poke the ball through Etheridge's legs but his effort lacked power and the Bluebirds' keeper made a sharp save. 

Silva was the next City player to be guilty of wasting a good opportunity. The 23-year-old was afforded way too much space and time in the Cardiff box, but his curling effort was weak and Etheridge was left to make a comfortable save. 

In stoppage time, Sterling did well on the left to roll the ball to Aguero, but the Argentine forward ballooned his effort well over the bar from 16 yards out. Moments later, Cardiff's Joe Bennett was sent off after receiving his second yellow card of the game for a reckless challenge on youngster Diaz.