Manchester City bounce back in style as they put five past Cardiff
Sergio Agüero scores on 300th appearance for club as Riyad Mahrez opens goal account
Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero celebrates after scoring the opening goal in the Premier League match against Cardiff City at Cardiff City Stadium. Photograph: Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty Images
Cardiff City 0 Manchester City 5
Manchester City bounced back from their Champions League defeat by coasting to an emphatic 5-0 win at Cardiff.
Sergio Agüero – who was making his 300th City appearance – Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan struck inside 12 first-half minutes as Pep Guardiola’s side got that 2-1 shock midweek home defeat to Lyon out of their system.
Substitute Riyad Mahrez added two more in the second half with his first goals since leaving Leicester and becoming City’s record signing in the summer.
Cardiff’s defeat dropped them in to the relegation zone and the Bluebirds are still searching for their first win following promotion to the Premier League.
The two sides had met in a controversial FA Cup fourth-round tie in January, which saw Guardiola urge players to receive extra protection from referees after Joe Bennett’s bad tackle had left his German winger Leroy Sane with ligament damage.
Eight months on and Bennett was dropped to the bench for a contest that rarely saw Cardiff get close to rampant City, although Joe Ralls was lucky to escape a red card close to the break for an ugly knee-high challenge on Gundogan.
City dominated both possession and territory in the opening half-hour without creating much of great note in driving rain.
Bruno Ecuele Manga’s precious touch prevented Raheem Sterling from tapping into an empty net and Gundogan sent his half-volley over the crossbar after Sean Morrison’s weak header had come back to him.
But City’s patient approach paid off after 32 minutes when Gundogan and Silva combined for Agüero to mark his landmark appearance with a crisp finish past Neil Etheridge in the Cardiff goal.
The lead was doubled within three minutes as Sane crossed from the right and Silva’s clever backward header looped in at the far post.
Etheridge came to Cardiff’s rescue to deny Agüero from close range, but a minute before half-time Gundogan played a one-two with Sterling and curled the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Cardiff’s misery should have got worse moments later when Ralls caught Gundogan high with a challenge that evoked memories of Bennett’s tackle on Sane.
But referee Michael Oliver chose to show a yellow card rather than a red, and Cardiff were spared the punishment of playing the second half with 10 men.
Cardiff did lose Lee Peltier just after half-time, the game held up for some time with the right back seemingly suffering a shoulder injury.
Sane clipped the outside of a post with a diving header before Mahrez scored within six minutes of replacing Agüero.
Sterling fed Gundogan down the left and his inch-perfect cross was rolled home by Mahrez.
Sane and Sterling had further chances to extend the lead before Mahrez pounced on Manga’s mistake two minutes from time and score with an unerring low drive.