In a cold and wet 3pm kickoff at Cardiff City Stadium, Manchester City avoided a potential banana skin in their quest to retain their Premier League title. After the Citizens 2-1 defeat at the hands of Lyon midweek, Guardiola's men started the game looking to prove a point.
For the first 25 minutes, Manchester City were frustrated as Cardiff City defended with an effective doggedness. Such was the resoluteness of Neil Warnock's side, the reigning Premier League champions failed to register a shot on target in these opening 25 minutes.
However, Cardiff's resistance was broken in the 32nd minute, just two minutes after Gündogan had spurned a wonderful chance to put his side ahead, hitting a half-volley over the bar from just eight yards out. Bernardo Silva found Sergio Agüero's run towards the near post and the Argentinian striker hammered an unstoppable, low finish beyond the despairing dive of Neil Etheridge on his 300th appearance for Manchester City.
Just thee minutes later, Guardiola's team made it two. Leroy Sané picked up the ball on the right hand-side before firing an in-swinging cross onto Bernardo Silva's head. The Portuguese playmaker's header looped up into the air and over Cardiff City's goalkeeper, nestling into the far corner. There will be some doubts as to whether he meant it, but it was a superb header if he did.
Things went from bad to worse for the Warnock's team, as the floodgates well and truly opened in the 43rd minute. After a beautiful one-two between Raheem Sterling and the influential Gündogan on the edge of the box, the German midfielder placed an unstoppable, curling finish into the top right-hand corner putting the Citizens firmly in the driving seat.
Moments after this third goal, Cardiff City's Joe Ralls put in a high, reckless challenge on Güdogan. With his studs showing and raking down the German international's shins, Cardiff's number eight might have counted himself fortunate to receive just a yellow card.
Manchester City continued the second half as they finished the first, and 20 minutes into the second half Gündogan provided an assist from the left, after being played in behind by Raheem Sterling, for Riyad Mahrez's first goal for the Citizens, who had replaced Sergio Agüero.
Just before full time, Riyad Mahrez added his second, and Manchester City's fifth, topping off an excellent afternoon for the Citizens.
Neil Etheridge was completely humiliated by Manchester City. Cardiff lost 5-0. The defense was poor. Non-existent almost.— JRC24 (@JaiGuruDevaOm24) September 22, 2018
Key Talking Point
In what was a game Neil Warnock and the Cardiff fans would not have expected to win, the Welsh team were totally outplayed and outclassed. Whilst it was unlikely that they'd get anything out of this game, what might worry Cardiff supporters is how easily they have been carved open by Chelsea and Manchester City in the last two games.
Cardiff's willingness to play without fear against the top teams is admirable. However, with goal-difference always important in the relegation battle, the Bluebirds might be better off trying to defend a bit deeper and hit sides on the counter in order to have a better chance of staying up this season.
Starting XI: Etheridge (6), Peltier (5), Morrison (5), Manga (6), Cunningham (5), Camarasa (5), Arter (6), Ralls (4), Hoilett (4), Reid (5), Ward (5)
Substitutes: Murphy, Bennett, Bamba, Richards (5), Paterson, Murphy (6), Zohore (6)
STAR MAN - Manga
It was tough to choose Cardiff's star player against Manchester City, such was the domination of Guardiola's side. However, whilst they conceded five goals, Manga defended resolutely, particularly in the opening 25 minutes of the game.
WORST PLAYER - Joe Ralls
Ralls endured a tough match against Manchester City in the middle of the park. He often seemed lost and was fortunate to be returning to the field for the second half, after his high challenge on Gündogan was only punished with a yellow card.