By 90Min
September 22, 2018

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.

GEOFF CADDICK/GettyImages

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. 

GEOFF CADDICK/GettyImages

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.  


MANCHESTER CITY

Key Talking Point

Manchester City's midweek European lapse against Lyon, which saw them lose their first Champions League group stage match 2-1 at the Etihad, seemed to spur the Citizens on. 
Guardiola's team were punished for their slackness in the first half of their midweek match, but there was no danger of lightning striking twice against Cardiff. The Premier League champions started with high intensity and were first to every second ball, ensuring that there was no escape  from the onslaught of pressure for Cardiff City.

Guardiola will be pleased with his side's reaction and will be hoping that his Manchester City players have learned their lesson for good. The former Barcelona manager will know full well that intensity levels must remain at the highest level if his team are to retain their Premier League crown. 

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Ederson (6), Walker (6), Otamendi (6), Laporte (7), Delph (7), B. Silva (8), Fernandinho (7), Gündogan (9), Sterling (8), Agüero (8), Sané (7)

Substitutes: Muric, Kompany, Stones, D. Silva, Mahrez (8), Foden (6), Jesus

STAR MAN - Ilkay Gündogan

Manchester City's number eight was at his influential best against Cardiff. Despite missing a big chance to open the scoring, Gündogan didn't let the miss hamper his performance. He played his part in the opener, providing the pass to Bernardo Silva before Agüero turned the cross goalwards, provided an assist for Mahrez and scored a sumptuous goal of his own for City's third, as Guardiola's men turned on the style. 

WORST PLAYER 

City's team shone today and there were no poor performances to note of. City's defence was relatively untroubled throughout and their attack revelled in the space they were given.

CARDIFF CITY

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. 


Player Ratings


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.


Looking Ahead

Manchester City's next Premier League test comes at home to Brighton next weekend. Guardiola will expect his team to play with the same intensity that they exhibited today, which should be enough to see his team notch another three points and keep the pressure on Liverpool 

Meanwhile, Cardiff are home against relegation rivals Burnley and will be desperate for a result which could be vital in their quest to stay up. 

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