MANCHESTER, England, April 3 – MANCHESTER CITY 2 CARDIFF CITY 0
Manchester City took command in the Premier League title race with a 2-0 win over Cardiff City that moved Pep Guardiola’s side a point clear of Liverpool with six games of the campaign remaining.
After a game which City could have won by a much bigger margin, the destiny of the title is in their hands with both teams having now played 32 games and City on 80 points while Juergen Klopp’s team are on 79.
If City win all their six games they will retain the title and after winning their last eight league games in a row and 20 of their last 22 in all competitions, they certainly are capable of finishing the season in such style.
“We have the feeling if we drop points we will not be champions,” said Guardiola.
“With the chances we created, we should have scored more, that’s the regret but the other side it was really good,” added the Spaniard.
City dominated from the outset, taking the lead in the sixth minute when Kevin De Bruyne ran on to a clever pass from Aymeric Laporte and blasted past Cardiff keeper Neil Etheridge from a tight angle.
The Belgian midfielder conceded after the game that he had intended to cross the ball but Etheridge will be disappointed that he had left his near post open.
City strutted and moved the ball with their customary ease but it was not until a minute before the break that Leroy Sane made it 2-0 with a sweet left-foot drive after a clever chest pass from Gabriel Jesus.
Somehow though City were unable to add to their tally after the break with Etheridge making a series of fine saves as City peppered the Cardiff goal.
He saved a Laporte header from a Phil Foden cross in the 66th minute, the City teenager having started his first Premier League game.
In the following five minutes the Philippine international keeper then parried and pushed over the bar a fierce Riyad Mahrez drive; was at full stretch to keep out a Sane shot and then dealt expertly with a Foden effort — the 18-year-old having also hit the post.
Cardiff had barely troubled the City defence but they came close to pulling a goal back on the break, in the 74th minute when Kyle Walker slipped but Oumar Niasse was unable to finish off the counter, Ederson racing out to deny him.
The result leaves 18th placed Cardiff five points away from the safety zone on 28 points. Burnley, Southampton and Brighton are all on 33 points, Huddersfield Town and Fulham have already been relegated.
“We are trying to keep it interesting and we are far outweighing our expectations, we are still in with a shout,” said Cardiff manager Neil Warnock.
“You can afford the odd draw but I think we have to win three at least, add a draw and who knows?”
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar