Manchester City eased into the FA Cup fifth round with an authoritative win away against Championship side Cardiff City. A record crowd for Bluebirds games at the Cardiff City Stadium was dumbfounded into silence as Kevin de Bruyne cheekily rolled a free-kick under the jumping wall to give the visitors a lead, which Raheem Sterling doubled with a header before half-time. Those goals bookended an excellent Bernardo Silva strike which was incorrectly disallowed for offside, which had little bearing on the result but might have been awarded had the video assistant referee (VAR) system been in use at the match. City missed chances to extend their lead in the second half – notably Sterling being denied by a fine covering tackle by Sean Morrison – but they were seldom troubled by Cardiff, who ended the game with 10 men after Joe Bennett’s late red card.
This was a fixture which produced a memorable upset in 1994, as Nathan Blake’s spectacular curling effort gave Cardiff – then struggling in the third tier – a 1-0 win over top-flight City at Ninian Park. But there was never the prospect of a shock result on this occasion, with runaway Premier League leaders City progressing to keep alive their hopes of completing an unprecedented quadruple of the Premier League, Champions League, League Cup and FA Cup trophies.
City ease through
City lost Leroy Sane to a foul by Joe Bennett, who was later sent off for a second rash challenge
City overcame a spirited effort from Cardiff’s Championship rivals Bristol City in a keenly contested Carabao Cup semi-final on Tuesday night, with manager Pep Guardiola fulsome in his praise for Lee Johnson’s men over two legs.
The former Barcelona boss was also wary of the threat Cardiff would pose, watching their third-round replay win over Mansfield from the stands and remarking that his City players would need to be on their toes against a Welsh side who would play “a lot of long balls”. There was certainly a rustic enthusiasm to Cardiff’s approach, though it proved costly as Joe Ralls’ heavy tackle on Ilkay Gundogan led to the free-kick which De Bruyne cleverly stroked under the jumping wall and into the bottom corner. Cardiff pressed their opponents in wide positions but left spaces in midfield, which the likes of De Bruyne, Gundogan and Silva exploited ruthlessly. After the frustration of having a goal disallowed, Silva scampered down the left wing and delivered a fabulous swinging cross to Sterling, who nodded in from close range to effectively kill the tie off before the break. The first half ended on a sour note for City as Leroy Sane was the victim of a dreadful, studs-up foul from Bennett, who was fortunate only to receive a yellow card for the tackle which forced the German winger off at half-time. Sane’s departure had no bearing on the result and neither did City’s inability to extend their lead despite second-half chances for Sterling and Silva.
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