Manchester City continue to fight on all four fronts following a comprehensive win over Cardiff City to book their place in the next round.
Inside the opening six minutes, Neil Etheridge made a case for himself with a fine block from Ilkay Gundogan whose effort was from close range.
Probably the best moment of the match came from a sneaky free kick from Kevin De Bruyne. The Cardiff City wall was hopeless and Etheridge looked rather bemused as the Belgian cooly slotted his effort give his side the lead.
Soon after, Claudio Bravo made a misjudgment which had everyone’s heart in their mouths! A long-range effort from Junior Hoilett was miscalculated by Bravo who almost conceded, but just managed to keep hold the ball at the second attempt! Lucky!
Neil Warnock’s side could’ve equalised had Callum Paterson connected with ball following a great cross from Joe Bennett, but the former couldn’t quite time his diving header.
Manchester City doubled their lead – or so they thought when a strike from Bernardo Silva blazed past Etheridge, but his effort was scratched off for offside when Leroy Sane was adjudged to have interfered with play. (Questions at the end).
Given that debacle, they visitors weren’t about to let that get to them as chances from Gundogan (free kick) and Raheem Sterling threatened.
The Premier League side doubled the lead with eight minutes to go with a header from the former Liverpool man, Sterling. The midfielder latched onto a cross from Silva (Bernardo) who headed past Etheridge who had no chance! Clinical City!
Towards the end of the half, Joe Bennett was booked for a late challenge on Leroy Sane. But should he have seen red?
Early into the second half, Sterling was fed through and found himself through on goal, but was foiled at the last moment by Sean Morrison whose well-timed challenge prevented Sterling from scoring, If not for him, Sterling may as well have scored!
At this stage of the game, the tie was far from over with Kenneth Zohore attempting an adventurous effort from close range and another which was saved by Bravo. (The first effort was shot over).
Cardiff City reminded fans and viewers at home that they were still in this when Anthony Pilkington saw his superb effort from close range fly over following a headed assist by Joe Ralls.
The best chance of the half from Cardiff City was a testing effort from former Blackburn Rovers man Junior Hoilett. (Remember him?) A well-worked strike from the line of the box nearly caught out Bravo, but just sailed over. Had that effort been scored, we’d be talking about the goal of the round (and potentially the tournament)!
Pep Guardiola’s side also threatened when Sterling was fed through late on by De Bruyne but was thwarted by Etheridge. He just couldn’t score – he was unlucky not to have done so both times!
Bernado Silva also had had effort, but his shot was caught by the 27-year-old keeper who made a comfortable save.
Etheridge made yet another block when he denied Danilo from scoring. At this point, he was my Man of the Match, which I’ll explain why later on.
Deep into stoppage time, Bennett was sent off for a rash challenge on Sergio Aguero. The left-back should’ve really seen red in the first half, but there we go.
The result sees Manchester City through to the next round against a valiant Cardiff City side.
Thoughts on the game
Both sides were professional in the way they went about the match in terms of going forward. Manchester City were clinical and Cardiff City never threw in the towel.
Controversies – Bernado Silva’s goal should’ve stood as Sane made very little contact (if he did make any contact) with the ball at all.
Joe Bennett should’ve seen red for the rash challenge on Sane and was extremely lucky to have remained on the pitch for as long as he did!
That’s my take, but what do you think?
Its back to league action for both sides as Manchester City host West Bromwich Albion (fresh from their FA Cup win over Liverpool) and Cardiff City travel north to face Leeds United over the weekend.