Wednesday 21 March 2018

Aguero caps City stockpiling as Cardiff get both barrels

Manchester City 4 Cardiff City 2

Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko celebrates scoring against Cardiff City at the Etihad Stadium yesterday
Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko celebrates scoring against Cardiff City at the Etihad Stadium yesterday
Sergio Aguero of Manchester City shoots past Steven Caulker of Cardiff
Yaya Toure of Manchester City is closed down by Jordon Mutch and Magnus Eikrem of Cardiff

Jamie Jackson

Manchester City's 100th goal of this stellar campaign arrived in the opening quarter-hour though confirmation of victory had to wait until the closing minutes when Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero collected numbers 102 and 103.

The Ivorian's was a simple give-and-go with Aguero that ended with his left-foot shot beating David Marshall. The Argentinian's 21st strike of the season came when he bedazzled the visiting rearguard before rifling home beyond the Cardiff City goalkeeper.

This meant that the Etihad Stadium had witnessed yet more stockpiling of goals when the usual glut City have returned at this venue all term had not been required if they were to become the fastest club to hit 100 in all competitions.

Score just once against Cardiff and Chelsea's mark of 42 games, which was set last season, would be smashed in eight fewer outings by Sheikh Mansour's billionaires in blue.

The effort that chalked up the century derived from David Silva, who enjoyed free rein all afternoon. He took possession near the Cardiff byline, beat Kevin Theophile-Catherine, the visiting right-back, left a sluggish Gary Medel, who was busy claiming handball, before finding Edin Dzeko.

The shot was miscued and Kevin McNaughton thought he had cleared but after a pause, goal-line technology informed referee Neil Swarbrick, correctly, that the left-back had failed, and it was 1-0 to City.

A contest that instantly became a game of attack versus defence from kick-off -- and stayed the same, more or less, throughout -- threatened to become a post-Christmas turkey shoot before the break was reached as City continually reloaded and aimed both barrels at Cardiff.

Silva was in mesmeric mood, with virtually every City surge coming from him. It was his floated ball that landed sweetly into Alvaro Negredo's path that the striker should have doubled the score with. The man known as The Beast in these parts had another clear chance moments later but his effort missed, being prodded to the right of Marshall.

Negredo and company rued this sloppiness when Cardiff split them open with ease. Theophile-Catherine began a move down the right by finding Aron Gunnarsson whose instant flick set Craig Noone on a diagonal trajectory towards Joe Hart. The wideman dropped a shoulder to leave Vincent Kompany a spectator then rifled in the finish.

This was just before the half-hour. Four minutes later Jesus Navas had a fourth league goal of the season. Toure bundled Gunnarsson away from the ball near his area, span 180 degrees, then let go a pass with the outside of his right foot along the City left to Dzeko. In trying to cut inside he ran into Steven Caulker and when the ball found Navas the finish came via Marshall's right hand.

If Pellegrini warned his team at half-time to be wary of complacency the Chilean will have been displeased at what he saw a few minutes into the second period. Jordon Mutch was allowed to wander forward unchallenged and let go a shot that had Hart saving sharply.

Dzeko, whose calling card features an ability to convince and bemuse, offered an illustration when he ambled down the left and mishit an effort that went wide. The forward then proved he has a light touch when being the third man in a sequence that nearly gave Silva the goal he deserved.

Negredo, who would be replaced by Aguero after this move, passed to Aleksandar Kolarov on the left. He pinged the ball back into Dzeko and his deft stab allowed Silva to wheel around the back of Cardiff's defence before poking his attempt to the left of Marshall but wide of his post.

Next, Noone indicated his equaliser had been no fluke when roving from close to his area to near City's, the attempt at Hart requiring another fine stop. Fraizer Campbell made the scoreline respectable for Cardiff when taking advantage of the snoozing Blues to finish from a corner. The loss, though, leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side bottom, with the new manager having lost his first two league games. "We can stay up. No doubt about that," he said.

"The league got tighter today -- from bottom to 10th it is five points. We will look to improve. Parts of all the performances have been very good.

"For half an hour we did very well today but for two or three minutes they blitzed us.

"You have to enjoy life, these kind of performances won't make me look older because at times we looked like a proper team. We did feel that after about 60 minutes we were in the game. The crowd was maybe turning a little against them and you start wondering if we could get something from the game, but obviously they have quality players who scored their extra two goals."


Irish Independent

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