MAN CITY 4, CARDIFF CITY 2
Manchester City broke through the 100-goal barrier for the season as they maintained their 100-per-cent record in the Premier League with victory against Cardiff City.
Edin Dzeko scored the landmark goal, City’s first of another fruitful afternoon as they produced another excellent attacking display to make it 11 straight league wins at the Etihad Stadium.
There were also goals for Jesus Navas, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero and City, with more clinical finishing, could have triumphed by an even wider margin.
The only dampener were the two goals conceded as at times City looked brittle at the back as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Cardiff caused them problems.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini praised his team for their goalscoring exploits saying: “It is not easy to score 103 goals by the middle of the season.
“We have chances every match to score lots of goals and it is important we continue the same way. In the first half it was one of our best performances of the season. We missed five or six clear chances.”
City’s manager was not too disappointed by the defensive lapses saying Cardiff didn’t have many chances in the game adding the second goal came at the death.
“It is important not to concede, but I am not worried at this time,” he continued.
Pellegrini made seven changes from the team which kicked off their FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers in midweek.
The front two of Alvaro Negredo and Dzeko retained their places as did Navas and Javi Garcia.
Winning recalls were heavyweights such as Yaya Toure, David Silva, Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta.
It was evident from the start it was going to be a long afternoon for Cardiff as Navas could have put City ahead inside the opening 30 seconds.
Cardiff keeper David Marshall then pulled off fine saves to deny Dzeko and prevent Ben Turner from scoring an embarrassing own goal.
The breakthrough came in the 14th minute when Dzeko had the honour of scoring City’s 100th goal of the season, though it was a scruffy effort compared to some of the stunning efforts of the campaign so far.
Silva cut the ball back from the left by-line and Dzeko sliced the ball from six yards and goalline technology showed it had entered the goal before it was cleared. It was his 16th goal of the season.
It looked as though the floodgates would open as Negredo had two chances to increase City’s lead as he was denied by Marshall before firing wide when well placed.
City were stunned when Cardiff equalised just short of the half hour following their first serious goal attempt of the game.
Craig Noone cut in from the right and beat Hart with a goal inside his near post which will have disappointed the keeper.
City regained the lead within four minutes when Negredo had a powerful burst forward holding off Steve Caulker before setting up Navas who fired low past Marshall.
Cardiff were more of a threat in the second as Hart was forced into two decent diving saves to deny Jordan Mutch and Noone.
At the opposite end, Cardiff’s midfield provided more protection to the back four as City struggled to make the plentiful chances they created in the opening period.
It came as a relief, therefore, when City finally added a third goal with 14 minutes remaining.
Yaya Toure made a great forward burst and played a return pass with Sergio Aguero before shooting low to the left of Marshall from just inside the box.
And it was not long before City added a fourth goal when Aguero turned Caulker inside out before shooting high past Marshall from six yards.
There would have been a fifth goal late on had Marshall not made a smart save low to his left to deny Dzeko.
Cardiff scored a second in stoppage time when former Manchester United striker Fraizer Campbell swept home a corner from almost on the goalline.