Riyad Mahrez off the mark as five-star Manchester City return to form against hapless Cardiff City

Cardiff City 0-5 Manchester City: Mahrez's late double came after Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan had put City in a commanding position

Graham Thomas
Cardiff City Stadium
Saturday 22 September 2018 16:34
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Manchester City 2018/19 Premier League profile

Riyad Mahrez scored twice – his first goals for his new club – and Sergio Aguero celebrated his 300th appearance with another goal as Manchester City ran riot at Cardiff.

Any thoughts the rest of the Premier League may have optimistically harboured that their midweek blip may usher in a crisis were ruthlessly eradicated in the champions’ most dominant display so far this season.

City were 3-0 up at half-time through Aguero, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan before Mahrez’s second-half goals reflected the gulf in class between clubs at either end of the table.

For Cardiff, still looking for their first victory of the season, this was a worrying capitulation as their fell to their heaviest home defeat since Neil Warnock took charge.

It could easily have been double figures for Pep Guardiola's men.

Jolted by their midweek Champions League defeat to Lyon, City made three changes with John Stones, David Silva and Gabriel Jesus making way Nicolas Otamedi, Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero.

Sane had been the victim of a crude tackle by Cardiff’s Joe Bennett when the clubs met in the FA Cup last January, but there was no immediate re-match with manager Neil Warnock opting to leave his full-back on the bench.

Warnock brought in Greg Cunningham and also started with Lee Peltier instead of Sol Bamba in a re-shaped back four.

Sergio Aguero opened the scoring

City’s possession forced Cardiff into an early retreating stance, but the first opportunity for the visitors did not arrive until the 11th minute when Aguero was given time to measure a cross but Ilkay Gundogan failed to steer the ball the right side of the post.

Mane’s pace troubled Cardiff, just as it had done eight months before, and when the German outpaced the home defence, Peltier’s panic was evident in a sliced clearance that could have gone anywhere but was deflected over the bar.

When Cardiff skipper Sean Morrison misplaced a header, Gundogan should have done better than side-foot the ball over from 12-yards, but it appeared Cardiff were using up too many lives.

They duly fell behind after 32 minutes when Gundogan and Bernardo Silva easily opened up the Cardiff left flank and from Silva’s low cross, Aguero clipped his shot first time beyond Neil Etheridge.

Bernardo made it two

Cardiff had offered only fleeting threat at the other end, chiefly through the energy of Bobby Reid, but within two minutes City had scored a second goal.

Again, the move began on the right but when Sane hit a dipping cross it still required an exquisite flick of the head from Silva, with his back to goal, to send the ball looping into the far corner with Etheridge stranded.

City were now playing with supreme confidence and it showed when they made it 3-0 just before half time.

Gundogan played a neat pass into Raheem Sterling, took the return, and then curled a superb shot with minimum effort into the top right-hand corner.

Gundogan scored a lovely goal

Neil Warnock looked as if he wanted more impact from his players and he got it, of sorts, when Joe Ralls scythed down Gundogan to earn a yellow card that replays suggested should really have been red.

Cardiff’s troubles only deepened when Peltier fell awkwardly in a challenge with Sane and injured his shoulder. The full-back received lengthy treatment before being carried off on a stretcher and replaced by Jazz Richards.

City were now so dominant it was case of how they wanted to add a fourth goal, rather than just when.

They opted for something notable, a first for their summer signing Riyad Mahrez in the 67th minute, six minutes after he had come in to replace Aguero.

Mahrez scored his first goal for City

Sterling began the move down the left, the influential Gundogan got beyond the home defence and his low cross was swept in at the back by a joyful Mahrez.

The Algerian then pounced on a mistake by Bruno Manga two minutes from time to step around challenge and fire a low shot past a dispirited Etheridge.

It was a case of rubbing salt into Welsh wounds, but the perfect reposte by Guardiola’s side after a difficult week.

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