As it happened: Back to the top for City as they comfortably beat Cardiff

As it happened: Back to the top for City as they comfortably beat Cardiff

Matchday live text commentary blog from Etihad stadium as Manchester City face Cardiff in the Premier League, Oliver Miller reports

Oliver Miller
Sign off!
So this is where our live coverage this evening concludes. My colleague Josh Slinger's match report will be arriving on the homepage shortly. Until the next time, goodbye.
Full Time Analysis
So there we go, City comprehensive winners, going back to the top of the Premier League having never needed to get out of second gear against a rather non-existent Cardiff side.

The first goal was certainly unconventional with De Bruyne managing to shoot from a tight angle and find the only part of the net that Etheridge wasn't protecting. That was in the sixth minute and even earlier City had a clearer chance which Jesus could not take. 

There were plenty more opportunities which the hosts spurned but when Sane drove in City's second just before half time, the game was over. Cardiff broke once or twice and even managed a shot on target in the final exchanges, but this was all about City domination and an easy win.


Full Time: Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
It has ended two-nil. City will take that, so will Cardiff. Now they will both march on to try and achieve their fairly contrasting aims.
90'+2 Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
Cardiff are finishing the game on the attack, after working their way into the area, Holiett tries to cross but it's deflected. The subsequent corner is taken and met by Morrison but he heads wide.
90' Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
This game has certainly drifted towards it's conclusion. There will be the same number of minutes added on as there are fans left in the stadium: two.
89' Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
De Bruyne has been named Man of the Match, and it is hard to argue against that.
86' Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
Morrison again does well to head away a cross. And then Cardiff break. Yes, really. Niase reaches the City area, he slows and then, showing his complete lack of confidence , passes into the torso of Ederson. His search for his first goal at Cardiff since arriving from Everton on loan goes on.
86' Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff


83' Cardiff Substitution
Reid is coming on for Camarassa, can he provide the visitors with any late energy?
81' Cardiff Substitution
Gunnarsson is going off for Bacuna.
79' Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
Jesus flicks at the near post but misses the target with his attempt. I think the ball from De Bruyne was coming at him at some speed and so, with him being Brazilian and all that, maybe an attempt at a flick was a natural reaction.
74' Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
A possible penalty shout against Manga. Jon Moss doesn't point to the spot but from my vantage point it did look like there was a substantial kick from the Cardiff defender on Mahrez who went down and looked at the referee. I wonder what Neil Warnock's reaction would have been had that been given?
72' Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
It is clear watching this that Guardiola is a manager who gives his players plenty of freedom and thinking to do in the final third. He wants his players to play, conjure, create, imagine and invent whilst also playing, being incisive and, most importantly, having fun. It is a joy to watch.
68' Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
The Philippines goalkeeper is certainly being made to work now. One moment he is saving down low, next he is punching up high and tipping a spinning ball back over his crossbar, then he is soaring through the night sky to save from Foden. He could only stand still, though, when Jesus struck the woodwork, this should be more than two.
66' Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
Etheridge denies Laporte on the line. Foden delivers the ball, Laporte gets a good connection with his head but the Cardiff keeper denies with a low-lying yet strong left hand.
64' Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
This is now a complete and utter stroll in the park for City. Has this result ever been in doubt? I wrote in my preview that this match is as close to a formality as you get in the Premier League, having watched this I would suggest that it's been even starker.
61' Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
Another City shot from distance. De Bruyne takes the swipe this time and only misses narrowly. Given his quality, though, he would most definitely have wanted to have done better.
60' Cardiff Substitution
Murphy is going off - did he ever come on? - but is nevertheless being replaced by Mendez-Laing.
57' Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
More City full-back injury news. Moments ago Walker seemingly turned his left ankle but has been able to continue. Now Danilo is feeling his thigh, but also looks capable of carrying on. This is with Zinchenko having already departed with a hamstring injury.
55' Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
City are knocking on the Cardiff door once again. Sane drills a cross from the left but Morrison is well-positioned to clear. The Cardiff defender has been his sides best player this evening, which I know is not saying a lot but still it's something.
53' Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
Ralls is caught out by De Bruyne who spins the Cardiff defender but is not able to break free of him as he's brought down. City have the free-kick on the left. It is curled in by De Bruyne but no one was able to provide the telling touch.
51' Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
Foden's in! Foden almost scores! Well that would have capped off his full Premier League debut perfectly. He was one-on-one with Etheridge thanks to a lovely through ball but credit to the Cardiff keeper who spreads himself well and manages to deny the City midfielder.
46' Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
A rather low-key restart. But Foden suddenly injects a bit of energy, then Laporte charges past him and into the Cardiff area - it's been that kind of evening - but his sideways pass is too powerful and it travels out for a throw-in.
We are back underway
The second half has begun!


Half Time Analysis
City have been utterly dominant. The late first half goal to double their lead will have changed Guardiola's team talk but in truth the second was only a question of when not if.

Seven corners, 85 per cent possession, and two goals: a rather comprehensive first half showing from the hosts.

Half Time: Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff
After two minutes of stoppage time, we have half time. It's 2-0 to City at the break.
43' Goal! Manchester City 2-0 Cardiff (Sane)
A string of City corners finishes with one being taken short, is worked to the back post. Jesus chests it into the path of Sane who then drives a power shot straight through the crowd in the area and past Etheridge.
39' Manchester City 1-0 Cardiff
Cardiff have got their first corner of the match. Camarassa  delivers it, City manage to clear easily. In fact, the hosts drive down the field. There is so much space available to them, at one stage it's five-on-two. De Bruyne leads the charge, passes to Sane who only has the goalkeeper to beat, but shoots straight at him. 
36' Manchester City 1-0 Cardiff
City are so dominant - 88.4 per cent possession to this point. But they need another goal. It will surely come though, and quite possibly before half time.
34' Manchester City 1-0 Cardiff
A Foden charge ends with Peltier bringing the City midfielder down and receiving a yellow card. It will be Sane to take it, but it doesn't dip enough. The Cardiff wall containing at least half their team, not needed on this occasion.
33' Manchester City 1-0 Cardiff
Stones really is City's conductor this evening. He is seeing so much of the ball, and very front-footed with his passing. Cardiff are giving the City centre-back a lot of time to pick out some lovely passes.
31' Manchester City 1-0 Cardiff
Fernandinho now goes for goal from no less than 25 yards out, his shot is also too high and never troubling Etheridge.
29' Manchester City 1-0 Cardiff
City win the ball back again high up the pitch. Sane lays off Foden whose shot rises above the crossbar. A sign of willingness there from Foden to take on an opportunity.
26' Manchester City 1-0 Cardiff
A rare piece of sustained Cardiff possession is stopped by a fantastic and rather upright challenge from Danilo, who then launches a City counter. A quick pass releases De Bruyne who charges forward, works his way past one or two Cardiff defenders and then plays the final pass to Jesus, who couldn't finish. Instead a tepid touch takes the ball out for a goal-kick.


21' Manchester City 1-0 Cardiff
Walker's first meaningful involvement almost brings about City's second. He drills a ball in, De Bruyne tries to control but there are enough Cardiff defenders around to clear for a corner. We are now more or less at walking pace, already.
20' Manchester City 1-0 Cardiff
Did someone drop a pin?
19' Manchester City 1-0 Cardiff
To answer my own question, Danilo has switched sides to allow Walker to take up his customary right-back position.
17' Manchester City Substitution
And here comes Walker. Zinchenko, who was on the ground reaching his tip-toes a moment ago, is limping off. There are worse replacements and Guardiola will look to reshape his back-line possibly with Danilo moving to the other flank. Then again, I don't think City need a back-line at all tonight.
15' Manchester City 1-0 Cardiff
Walker is warming up and appears to be preparing to come on. It looks like Zinchenko is struggling, possibly over-stretching when sending in the aforementioned delivery.
13' Manchester City 1-0 Cardiff
Zinchenko, onside, sweeps a delivery into the corridor of uncertainty as the cricketers would say. Morrison gets back quickly though, slides and blocks the low cross.
12' Manchester City 1-0 Cardiff
Cardiff are dropping into what looks like a back-five when City are keeping possession in the visitor's half. Both of City's centre-backs are dictating play at the moment, and they're playing in midfield...enough said.
10' Manchester City 1-0 Cardiff
I must say, we are now 10 minutes into the match and there are so many empty seats in the Etihad. Considering that this is not only a team challenging for back-to-back league titles, but is also a highly skilled, highly impressive Pep Guardiola side, it is rather embarrassing support. Rant over!
08' Manchester City 1-0 Cardiff
Bennett gives away a foul and receives the game's first yellow card. Sane takes the free kick from just outside the D of the penalty area but it is easily grasped by Etheridge. I think the Cardiff goalkeeper may be a busy man this evening.
06' Goal! Manchester City 1-0 Cardiff (De Bruyne)
And there we have it, should we leave now? A smart incisive pass by Laporte finds De Bruyne who takes the ball towards the goalline. When the angle looked too tight, De Bruyne clips the ball through the gap that Etheridge had left. The goalie should have done better, but I don't think he was expecting De Bruyne to shoot from there. 1-0.
03' Manchester City 0-0 Cardiff
City are passing the ball around very confidently at the moment, and why shouldn't they. Mahrez takes on a shot from outside the area, it clips the heel of Manga and goalkeeper Etheridge has to get down swiftly to stop the ball from reaching the corner of the net. The hosts have started well, as expected.
01' Manchester City 0-0 Cardiff
Oh wow! I thought Cardiff may be up against it this evening but already Jesus has come inches from giving City the lead. He just couldn't stretch enough at the far post to latch onto the square ball. 
We are underway at the Etihad! Who will win? City get the ball rolling.
Moments reflection..
..for the life of Bernard Halford, the former Man City Club Secretary and Life President who died last week. He gave so much to this club, a true City legend.
Five minutes til kickoff
The two sets of blues are about to enter the field of play, action is now under five minutes away.


So Pep rings the changes (7 in total) and interestingly Foden starts in midfield - his first Premier League start. I am looking forward to seeing him especially with time on the ball and a trickily tight defence to pick through. 

Cardiff have only made one change (and know signs of the under-23's that Warnock hinted at, clearly tongue in cheek). The visitors will surely be hoping that confidence is not too badly damaged prior to some big matches against Burnley and Brighton.


Good Evening
So here we are then, this is match 33 for Man City who have played a game less than title rivals Liverpool but are playing this round of matches ahead of them and also before they themselves have even played match 31. 

Confusing? Yes, I know - so here's this evening's team news...


Man City XI: Ederson, Danilo, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Foden, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Sane, Jesus

Subs: Muric, Walker, Kompany, Sterling, Gundogan, Bernardo, D Silva


Cardiff XI: Etheridge, Peltier, Morrison, Manga, Bennett, Gunnarsson, Ralls, Camarasa, Murphy, Hoilett, Niasse

Subs: Murphy, Zahore, Decordova-Reid, Bacuna, Cunningham, Mendez-Laing, Harris

Speak to you there!
Make sure you check back in prior to kickoff on Wednesday evening, when we will have team news and build up from the Etihad. 
What are the managers saying?
Pep Guardiola:

"It [the pressure to win] will not be a problem. We know what we are going to play for. Every single game is a final. 

"The main target is to come back top of the league with six games left and after go to live again at Wembley to achieve the one final [the FA Cup] I never played in my life and the oldest trophy ever, and, after, the Champions League. We pass tough moments during the season to live that moment and we are fortunate to do it."

"He [Aguero] didn't train the last two days and cannot play tomorrow. We will see his evolution in the next few days."

"Cardiff, what I saw against Chelsea, is alive. They have incredible spirit. It is not a team that is already done. It is there but we want to be there too."

Neil Warnock:

"We've got to do our best in the game. I doubt any of our squad could get in either two of their first teams." 

"They've taken the Premier League to another level. And you're not only putting your wits against the very best - possibly in Europe - but it's the highest odds in a game this season; 40/1 in a two-horse race."

"The bookies say they've never seen betting like it."

Who's fit, who's not?
Guardiola confirmed on Tuesday that Sergio Aguero will not be available for this match and quite possibly also for Saturday's FA Cup semi final against Brighton.

The City striker was substituted at his own request away to Fulham and rightly Guardiola is ensuring that Aguero is fit and ready to fire when they travel to Tottenham's new stadium for a Champions League quarter final match next midweek.

The good news for City is that Vincent Kompany is available following nearly a month out with a muscular problem, however, Fabian Delph is still sidelined.

Cardiff full back Jazz Richards, who is yet to start a league game this season, has returned to training following a thigh injury. 

Defender Sol Bamba and forward Callum Paterson are both long-term absentees and won't be featuring.

Manchester City will be hopeful of leapfrogging Liverpool and reclaiming top spot in the Premier League come the conclusion of this match. When asked how he reacted to Liverpool's late winner against Tottenham on Sunday, Pep Guardiola responded: "Ah, s***!" Now, though his side have their chance of playing their 32nd Premier League match of the season and returning top.

This is a match that appears as much of a formality as the Premier League can offer; having beaten fellow relegation threatened Fulham on Saturday with ample of room to spare, City now face Cardiff who came away from their defeat to Chelsea on Sunday feeling hard done by.

Though it will take more than frustration at their current situation to cause City problems at the Etihad. Neil Warnock will surely set his side up to hang on in there for as long as possible and try not to get the players' confidence too badly effected before crucial away games at Burnley and Brighton.

The visitors will not be expected to take anything away from the Etihad on Wednesday, it's a full-gone conclusion for many but at least those attending will hopefully have some lovely silky City football to enjoy.

Welcome All!
Hello and welcome to VAVEL UK's live text coverage of the Premier League match between Manchester City and Cardiff City from the Etihad stadium. 

I'm Oliver Miller and I'll be keeping you updated with the latest instalment of "The Run-in" from east Manchester.

It is a 7:45pm kick-off on Wednesday and you can bookmark this page to stay up to date with the latest updates and team news as the match approaches.