Cardiff 0 Man City 2: Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling secure win for Prem heavyweights

Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling were both on the score sheet as City secured a routine win at the Cardiff City Stadium.

De Bruyne’s eighth-minute free-kick was a candidate for the cheekiest goal of the season as he sent the ball under the Cardiff wall, while Sterling’s header gave City a two-goal cushion before half-time.

Cardiff were committed throughout – too much at times with defender Joe Bennett sent off in stoppage time – but the gap between the top of the Premier League and third in the Sky Bet Championship never looked like being bridged.

City booked their place in the final of the Carabao Cup in midweek by beating Bristol City and hopes of an unprecedented quadruple remain very much alive after this impressive showing.

There was also the bonus of captain Vincent Kompany returning to action for the first time since limping off at Newcastle on December 27, and the Belgian defender completed 90 minutes for only the second time in two months.

The omens were positive for Cardiff as City had lost on their previous two visits to the Welsh capital.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side were beaten here in a Premier League fixture in August 2013 and Nathan Blake had settled a fourth-round tie when the two sides last met in the FA Cup at the old Ninian Park in 1994.

Cardiff showed their intent when Nathaniel Mendez-Laing rounded Danilo and a more measured ball into the box might have led to a shooting opportunity.

But De Bruyne silenced the feverish home crowd after Ilkay Gundogan had tested Neil Etheridge in the Cardiff goal and then been crudely upended by Joe Ralls.

The Cardiff wall jumped as one, but De Bruyne took the low route and rolled the ball under the blue shirts to reach double figures for the season.

Cardiff remained unbowed from that setback and Junior Hoilett almost equalised when Claudio Bravo made a hash of his 30-yard volley.

Bravo spilled the shot backwards but the Chilean held it at the second attempt just as it was about to cross the goal-line.

Bennett instantly produced a peach of a cross which proved just too high for the unmarked Callum Paterson in the middle.

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