Goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling saw Manchester City beat Cardiff 2-0 in their FA Cup fourth-round clash at the Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
De Bruyne broke the deadlock early on with an impudent free kick to settle Man City’s nerves, before Sterling added a second with a close-range header eight minutes before half-time.
However, despite Joe Bennett’s injury-time red card, there were no more goals in the second half as Pep Guardiola’s side booked their place in Monday’s draw for the fifth round.
Man City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan wasted little time in testing Neil Etheridge in the Cardiff goal, and from the rebound the German was fouled on the edge of the area.
However, De Bruyne cheekily rolled the resulting set play under the Cardiff wall, which jumped, leaving Etheridge with no chance as the visitors took an eighth-minute lead.
Neil Warnock’s side, who currently sit third in the Championship, thought they had drawn level just past the quarter-hour mark when Junior Hoilett let fly from 35 yards.
Man City ‘keeper Claudio Bravo, in for No 1 Ederson, made a complete hash of the forward’s effort, somehow allowing the shot to squirm from his grasp, only for the Chilean to react just in time to prevent the ball crossing the line.
Man City then moved up a gear and should have doubled their lead midway through the first period when Bernardo Silva beat Etheridge with a thunderbolt from the edge of the area.
Referee Lee Mason and his assistant, however, ruled the Portugal international’s effort out with Leroy Sane deemed to be standing in an offside position and interfering with Etheridge’s line of vision. TV replays suggested Sane was onside.
Despite some initial Man City complaints to the offside decision, the visitors soon doubled their lead thanks to Sterling’s 19th goal of the season.
Danilo released Bernardo Silva down the left flank and the midfielder’s inch-perfect centre was headed home by the unmarked Sterling eight yards from goal – the England international’s first headed goal in any club competition since Boxing Day 2015.
Cardiff seemed content to settle for a 2-0 defeat, with the closest the home team coming to scoring being Hoilett’s rasping drive midway through the second half that beat Bravo but flew inches over the bar.
However, the game ended on a slightly sour note when Bennett – who was lucky not to have been sent off just before half-time for a lunging challenge on Leroy Sane that ended the German’s afternoon – picked up his second booking of the contest for a late tackle on City substitute Brahim Diaz.