Premier League
Man City2Cardiff0

Man City 2-0 Cardiff: Champions return to top of Premier League

Leroy Sane
Leroy Sane doubled Man City's lead just before the interval

Manchester City moved back above Liverpool at the top of the Premier League after easing to victory against struggling Cardiff.

An eighth successive league win for the defending champions was seldom in doubt and means they lead Jurgen Klopp's team by a point with six games remaining.

Pep Guardiola's side, who are chasing an unprecedented quadruple, know they will finish top if they win their remaining matches but it is unlikely many of them will be as straightforward as this one.

Kevin de Bruyne took just five minutes to open the scoring with his first league goal since 22 December, running on to Aymeric Laporte's pass and squeezing his shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle.

More Manchester City possession and chances followed, before Leroy Sane made it 2-0 just before half-time, burying his shot into the bottom corner after a neat chested knock-down from Gabriel Jesus.

Cardiff, who remain five points adrift of safety, barely threatened at the other end and did not register an effort at goal or a touch in the home area until Junior Hoilett had a hopeful shot blocked at the very end of the first half.

They did not manage a serious foray forward until Oumar Niasse broke away to force Ederson into a fine save after 85 minutes, while Manchester City continued to pepper Neil Etheridge's goal with shots.

Phil Foden had two efforts brilliantly stopped by Etheridge as he tried unsuccessfully to mark his first league start with a goal, while Jesus saw an elaborate flick fly wide when it appeared easy to tap the ball home, with his blushes saved by an offside flag.

Despite failing to add to their tally in the second half, Manchester City's goal difference is now nine better than Liverpool's - although the Reds can replace them at the top if they win at Southampton on Friday.

City's squad steps up to secure win

The home side's superiority meant they were able to coast through large parts of this game, but they face a punishing schedule if they are to become the first English team to manage a clean sweep across four fronts.

They will play twice a week for the rest of April, with their next two tests against Brighton in their FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday and Tottenham in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Guardiola praises 'incredible' Foden performance

All of Manchester City's squad will surely play some part in a the next few weeks, so it must have been reassuring for Guardiola to see some of his lesser-used players in such convincing form here.

With Sergio Aguero injured and Raheem Sterling left on the bench, it was left to Jesus to lead the line and although he did not manage a goal himself, his non-stop running frequently opened up spaces for others.

Like Jesus, Riyad Mahrez has also been short of first-team starts recently. One early misplaced pass brought groans from his side's fans but he continued to look lively and should have had a penalty when he was fouled in the box in the second half.

Foden forced Etheridge into a fine save and hit the post in the second-half as he looked completely at ease in his surroundings, understandable given his first-team appearances in other competitions, while a fit-again De Bruyne is clearly a huge boost to City's hopes.

The only cloud on an otherwise pretty much perfect night was an early injury to Oleksandr Zinchenko, who has made the left-back slot his own since the start of the year.

Cardiff can have no complaints about this result

Huddersfield and Fulham have already been relegated from the Premier League and Cardiff are fighting to avoid joining them.

The Bluebirds did nothing to improve their situation here, but their survival prospects were always going to depend more on how they fare in their next two games - away at Burnley and Brighton, who are two of the three teams immediately above them - than their result against Guardiola's team.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Cardiff couldn't have given any more - Warnock

Several key decisions went against the Bluebirds in their defeat by Chelsea on Sunday, bringing a furious reaction from manager Neil Warnock, but on this occasion he cannot argue that his side deserved more than they got.

Their attempts to keep the home side out looked doomed to failure from the moment Jesus missed a De Bruyne cross by a matter of millimetres just 30 seconds into the game, and things did not improve much from that point.

If Niasse had taken his chance when he ran clear, then the visitors might have made the final five minutes of the game into more of a contest, but Cardiff were clearly second best throughout.

Man of the match - Kevin de Bruyne (Man City)

Kevin de Bruyne
Manchester City’s main man last season has been denied many minutes in this campaign by a series of injuries but he looks ready to make up for lost time in the final two months of the season.

'He is ready' - what they said

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola to BBC Sport: "We played really well. We started really well. A magnificent goal from Kevin de Bruyne. Unfortunately we missed a lot of chances; we need to score more goals.

"Phil Foden played excellently. He did everything, arriving in the right positions with the right tempo. He always has chances, has a sense of goal. He's ready, we know it, to play any game in any position.

"He competes with David Silva, Kevin, [Ilkay] Gundogan, Bernardo [Silva]. He trains incredible."

On whether Sergio Aguero be fit for Saturday's FA Cup semi-final: "We will see on Aguero..."

Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock to BBC Sport: "I don't think my players could've given us any more. I was disappointed to concede early doors. They move it so quickly, it is difficult.

"It would have been interesting if we scored at the end to see how nervous we could have made them, but I have to be pleased.

"The first goal - Neil Etheridge played really well - he knew he should've saved it. I shouted to Kevin de Bruyne at half-time: 'Kevin, did you mean that? Tell me the truth.' He said: 'No I didn't.' So I can let Neil off, although he should still save it!"

On Cardiff's survival chances: "You can afford the odd draw but I think we have to win three at least, add a draw and who knows?"

Fortress Etihad - the stats

  • Manchester City have won 23 of their 25 home matches across all competitions in 2018-19 (L2), including 16 of 17 in the Premier League (L1).
  • Only Chelsea in 2004-05 (31 games) and Manchester City last season (30 games) have reached 80 points (assuming three points for a win) in fewer games in English top-flight history than City have this season (32 games).
  • Cardiff remain the only side in Premier League history to have never won a midweek match (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) in the competition (P11 W0 D3 L8). They have scored just two goals in their 11 such fixtures.
  • Cardiff boss Neil Warnock has lost all eight of his managerial league matches against the reigning top-flight champions, including six in the Premier League; only Paul Jewell (eight) and Paul Lambert (seven) have a poorer 100% loss rate against reigning champions in the competition.
  • Only Blackburn Rovers (18 in 1994-95) have ever scored more goals in the opening 15 minutes of their games in a single Premier League season than Manchester City have in 2018-19 (17).
  • Leroy Sane has had a hand in 24 goals in his past 21 appearances at Etihad Stadium for Manchester City in all competitions (nine goals, 15 assists).
  • With an average age of 25 years and 139 days, Manchester City's starting XI against Cardiff was their youngest in a Premier League match since April 2011 against Sunderland (24 years 341 days).
  • Phil Foden (18 years 310 days) was the youngest player to make his first Premier League start for Manchester City since Jose Pozo against Leicester in December 2014 (18 years 273 days), and youngest English player to do so since Daniel Sturridge in January 2008 against Derby (18 years 151 days).

What's next?

City head for Wembley for the fourth time this season this weekend to face Brighton (17:30 BST, live on BBC One), having won on all three previous visits - the Community Shield, Spurs in the Premier League and the Carabao Cup final.

Cardiff have the weekend off. They are next in action at Burnley on 13 April (15:00).

Line-ups

Man City

  • 31Ederson
  • 3Danilo
  • 5Stones
  • 14Laporte
  • 35ZinchenkoSubstituted forWalkerat 19'minutes
  • 17De Bruyne
  • 25Fernandinho
  • 47Foden
  • 26Mahrez
  • 33Gabriel Jesus
  • 19Sané

Substitutes

  • 2Walker
  • 4Kompany
  • 7Sterling
  • 8Gündogan
  • 20Bernardo Silva
  • 21Silva
  • 49Muric

Cardiff

  • 1Etheridge
  • 2PeltierBooked at 34mins
  • 4Morrison
  • 5Ecuele Manga
  • 3BennettBooked at 8mins
  • 11MurphySubstituted forMendez-Laingat 60'minutes
  • 17GunnarssonSubstituted forBacunaat 81'minutes
  • 8RallsBooked at 53mins
  • 33Hoilett
  • 21CamarasaSubstituted forDe Cordova-Reidat 83'minutes
  • 29Niasse

Substitutes

  • 10Zohore
  • 14De Cordova-Reid
  • 15Bacuna
  • 18Cunningham
  • 19Mendez-Laing
  • 23K Harris
  • 28Murphy
Referee:
Jonathan Moss
Attendance:
53,559

Match Stats

Home TeamMan CityAway TeamCardiff
Possession
Home79%
Away21%
Shots
Home27
Away4
Shots on Target
Home11
Away1
Corners
Home17
Away4
Fouls
Home3
Away7

Live Text

Match ends, Manchester City 2, Cardiff City 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Manchester City 2, Cardiff City 0.

Attempt missed. Sean Morrison (Cardiff City) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by David Junior Hoilett with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Danilo.

Attempt missed. Fernandinho (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Riyad Mahrez with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Sean Morrison.

Hand ball by Phil Foden (Manchester City).

Kyle Walker (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by David Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City).

Substitution

Substitution, Cardiff City. Bobby De Cordova-Reid replaces Víctor Camarasa.

Attempt missed. Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Substitution

Substitution, Cardiff City. Leandro Bacuna replaces Aron Gunnarsson.

Attempt missed. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne.

Attempt missed. Sean Morrison (Cardiff City) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Víctor Camarasa with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Danilo.

Attempt blocked. Leroy Sané (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Fernandinho.

Attempt saved. Oumar Niasse (Cardiff City) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Víctor Camarasa.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Lee Peltier.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Neil Etheridge.

Attempt saved. Phil Foden (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne.

Phil Foden (Manchester City) hits the left post with a left footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Leroy Sané with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Neil Etheridge.

Attempt saved. Leroy Sané (Manchester City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne with a cross.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Neil Etheridge.

Attempt saved. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Phil Foden.

Attempt saved. Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Phil Foden with a cross.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Neil Etheridge.

Attempt saved. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Gabriel Jesus.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Sean Morrison.

Attempt missed. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Leroy Sané.

Substitution

Substitution, Cardiff City. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing replaces Josh Murphy.

Attempt missed. Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Kyle Walker following a corner.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by David Junior Hoilett.

Attempt blocked. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Sean Morrison.

Attempt missed. Fernandinho (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne with a cross following a set piece situation.

Booking

Joe Ralls (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Joe Ralls (Cardiff City).

Attempt missed. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Phil Foden following a corner.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Man City32262483216280
2Liverpool32247172195379
3Tottenham322111060342664
4Arsenal31196665392663
5Chelsea32196755342163
6Man Utd32187761431861
7Wolves32138114039147
8Watford32137124747046
9Leicester32135144243-144
10Everton32127134542343
11West Ham32126144148-742
12Bournemouth32115164358-1538
13Crystal Palace32106163843-536
14Newcastle3298153142-1135
15Brighton3196163246-1433
16Southampton3189143550-1533
17Burnley3296173759-2233
18Cardiff3284202861-3328
19Fulham3345243076-4617
20Huddersfield3235241859-4114
View full Premier League table

Top Stories