Cardiff City 0-2 Manchester City: Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling goals hand Man City win
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 28/01/18 11:07pm
Goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling saw Manchester City beat Cardiff 2-0 in their FA Cup fourth-round clash at the Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
De Bruyne broke the deadlock early on with an impudent free kick to settle Man City's nerves, before Sterling added a second with a close-range header eight minutes before half-time.
However, despite Joe Bennett's injury-time red card, there were no more goals in the second half as Pep Guardiola's side booked their place in Monday's draw for the fifth round.
Cardiff: Etheridge (7), Ecuele Manga (6), Morrison (6), Paterson (7?), Richards (6), Grujic (5), Ralls (6), Bennett (6), Mendez-Laing (6), Hoilett (8), Zohore (7)
Subs: Feeney (6), Pilkington (7), Damour (6)
(9)Man City: Bravo (5), Walker (7), Kompany (7), Otamendi (6), Danilo (7), De Bruyne (9), Fernandinho (7), Gundogan (7), Bernardo Silva (7), Sterling (7), Sane (7)
Subs: Diaz (6), Aguero (7)
Man of the match: Kevin De Bruyne
Man City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan wasted little time in testing Neil Etheridge in the Cardiff goal, and from the rebound the German was fouled on the edge of the area.
However, De Bruyne cheekily rolled the resulting set play under the Cardiff wall, which jumped, leaving Etheridge with no chance as the visitors took an eighth-minute lead.
Neil Warnock's side, who currently sit third in the Championship, thought they had drawn level just past the quarter-hour mark when Junior Hoilett let fly from 35 yards.
Man City 'keeper Claudio Bravo, in for No 1 Ederson, made a complete hash of the forward's effort, somehow allowing the shot to squirm from his grasp, only for the Chilean to react just in time to prevent the ball crossing the line.
Man City then moved up a gear and should have doubled their lead midway through the first period when Bernardo Silva beat Etheridge with a thunderbolt from the edge of the area.
Referee Lee Mason and his assistant, however, ruled the Portugal international's effort out with Leroy Sane deemed to be standing in an offside position and interfering with Etheridge's line of vision. TV replays suggested Sane was onside.
Cardiff made two changes from the team that drew with Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship last weekend, with Callum Paterson and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing brought into the team.
City made four changes from their win at Bristol City in the Carabao Cup semis on Tuesday, with captain Vincent Kompany back. Right-back Kyle Walker also started in defence having recovered from the head injury he picked up in that game.
Despite some initial Man City complaints to the offside decision, the visitors soon doubled their lead thanks to Sterling's 19th goal of the season.
Danilo released Bernardo Silva down the left flank and the midfielder's inch-perfect centre was headed home by the unmarked Sterling eight yards from goal - the England international's first headed goal in any club competition since Boxing Day 2015.
Cardiff seemed content to settle for a 2-0 defeat, with the closest the home team coming to scoring being Hoilett's rasping drive midway through the second half that beat Bravo but flew inches over the bar.
However, the game ended on a slightly sour note when Bennett - who was lucky not to have been sent off just before half-time for a lunging challenge on Leroy Sane that ended the German's afternoon - picked up his second booking of the contest for a late tackle on City substitute Brahim Diaz.
- Following De Bruyne's opener, City now have five players to have scored at least 10 goals in all competitions this season, more than any other English league side (Aguero, Sterling, Sane, Jesus, De Bruyne)
- Cardiff have progressed just once from their last 11 FA Cup ties against sides from a higher division, last beating then Premier League side Middlesbrough, back in 2008
- As a manager, Pep Guardiola has lost just once in 22 meetings with sides from a lower division (W19 D2), with that sole defeat coming in a Copa Del Rey match against Real Betis back in January 2011
- Bernardo Silva has been directly involved in nine goals (3 goals, 6 assists) in his last 13 games in all competitions, this after failing to register a single goal or assist in any of the 12 games prior to this run
- Neil Warnock has failed to win in any of his last nine matches against City in all competitions (D2 L7), including losing each of the last six
- In fact, Warnock has not beaten The Citizens since a 1-0 win back in January 2000 when in charge of Sheffield United - while City were under Joe Royle's stewardship
Neil Warnock: "I know it sounds silly, but I was really pleased. I just wanted us to put on a bit of a performance, as best we could. I saw flashes of certain things today which I was pleased with and which I have not seen since before Christmas."
Pep Guardiola: "There are no words to describe the pride I feel about my players and my team. We have played many games and we do not have a big squad because of so many injuries and players with problems.
"But they are ready to play every three days and I feel something very special about that."
Man of the Match - Kevin De Bruyne
The Belgium international laid on another midfield masterclass, controlling the encounter from start to finish with his inch-perfect long-range passing, subtle touches and clever finishing.
The highlight of the player's day, however, was his early, cheeky free-kick that fooled the Cardiff wall for his 10th goal of the campaign.
And of those strikes, De Bruyne has now scored six from outside the box, at least two more than any other Premier League player.
Cardiff take on Leeds United at Elland Road in the Championship on Saturday afternoon, while Man City entertain West Bromwich Albion at the Etihad in the Premier League on Wednesday night.