This was an exquisite performance put up by Manchester City against Cardiff City, putting behind the disappointment of Champions League defeat against Lyon. It was a game that on paper was always going to be a one-sided affair. But the domination City put up there was something else.
It could have easily been 8-0. The only thing Cardiff could have got anything from the game was to defend for their lives and nicking something with a set-piece but that wasn’t to be.
With an abundance of striking options, City dominated proceedings from the start controlling the game with their possession. The number of goals proved that City’s passing was slick, something that Cardiff just couldn’t find a way around. Surprisingly, the deadlock was broken only in 32nd minute. Marking his extension with City and 300th appearance, Sergio Aguero scored his 205th goal.
The first goal exhibited Neil Warnock’s team’s marking man for man in the defensive third. The movement from the top players will pull his defenders out of position and Aguero’s goal was a classic case, as Cardiff defence was pulled apart conceding their first of the five in the match.
Three minutes later, Leroy Sane operating from the right, cut back onto his left foot delivering a delightful ball, which was cleverly headed, from Bernardo Silva into the far post. What was fascinating to see is when a left footed player popping up on the right which can be very tricky to negotiate as the delivery is swinging in towards the goal.
Nine minutes later, some intricate work around the box saw City stamping their authority all over Cardiff. A sharp Ilkay Gundogan took a ball outside the box playing a one-two with Raheem Sterling, who pinned his man on the edge of the box, as the German gave a classy finish passing the ball into the top corner to make it 3-0 for the visitors at half-time.
Second half wasn’t any different as chances came thick and fast. All that Cardiff could do is fight but City had no intentions of letting them off the hook. With just 23 minutes left to the game, Gundogan got in the thick of the action, this time being a provider.
For me this was classic City goal, if it’s not one-two around the edge of the box, it’s this type of finish – the overlap down the left is timed to perfection by Gundogan who makes a simple slide pass across the box and the opposite wide man this time Riyad Mahrez puts it in the centre of the goal making it 4-0 for City.
City kept pressing high all day smothering Cardiff. Something that forced a loose ball from Bruno Manga intercepted by Mahrez at the edge of the box as he scored his second, team’s fifth, to seal the deal at 5-0.
Thankfully there wasn’t much time left after the fifth goal from City that came in 89th minute otherwise the scoreline would’ve been much more embarrassing for Cardiff. But City were far to good for Cardiff on the day and the talent they possess is frightening and with Pep as the manager, it is hard to see them not winning trophies this season. Manchester City can inflict pain on a lot of teams this season with this kind of performance.
This result will not determine whether Cardiff stay in the Premier League but they will have to pick up points against teams around them if they are to survive. What City will take out the game is what Pep spoke about the mentality before the game and his side delivered a thoroughly professional performance that will please the manager.
Two clubs with different budgets and different ambitions this season.
The author is a former Manchester City player. He currently plays for FC Pune City in the Indian Super League.Published 24 Sep 2018, 11:23 IST