Billed as the biggest clash of playing styles in the Premier League since the Arsenal vs. Stoke fixtures of the Rory Delap era, City had to be patient. Despite a 3-0 half-time lead, the first goal did not go in until the 32nd minute. That they ended five goals clear was evidence that the midweek defeat to Lyon was not playing on anyone’s mind.
Patient probing against an initially resilient home side resulted in a textbook City opener: the quick delivery out by Ederson bypassing four Cardiff midfielders, fast breaking to the edge of the box, holding play up for reinforcements and still finding three killer passes to go through the regrouped Cardiff backline like a knife through butter.
Slight hangover from midweek? A slow and slightly sloppy start in poor conditions soon gave way to the expected festival of passing.
Manager Rating out of 10
8 — Pep Guardiola was not put off his mission by the home defeat to Lyon, insisting his players are intensely focused for every single game he takes charge of. Although this was not initially evident, by the end there was nobody to disagree with his prematch statement.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ederson, 7 — Tested early on by Aymeric Laporte’s strong back pass but called into action infrequently, showing safe handling and quick deliveries to runners breaking out of the box.
DF Kyle Walker, 7 — Eager to advance in the absence of a Cardiff threat down his side.
DF, Nicolas Otamendi, 7 — First real opportunity to impress saw him clearing out Bobby Reid’s cross, after Laporte fell asleep and lost his runner. Comfortable afternoon in complete control.
DF Aymeric Laporte, 7 — Combination of lovely open-footed passes down the left and plenty of safe defensive possession. Still prone to the occasional lapse, but a cultured presence at the back.
DF Fabian Delph, 7 — Third straight start. Solid and dependable after a poor outing vs. Lyon.
MF Fernandinho, 7 — Kept things ticking over in a midfield dominated by City’s possession football. Spared after 73 minutes when John Stones replaced him, as he had also received a yellow card for a textbook block on the breaking Junior Hoilett.
MF Bernardo Silva, 8 – Provided plenty of bright moments, setting up Sergio Aguero with a pinpoint pass into the box and producing a collector’s item back header for the second.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, 9 — Lively and engaging performance from the German, who had had the first chance of the game after eight minutes. Undeterred by the miss, he produced a beautifully placed goal into the top corner, slid in the critical pass for the opener and set up Ryad Mahrez for the fourth.
FW Raheem Sterling, 8 — Bit of a loose opening, but became much more effective as game went on, setting up Gundogan’s strike and tearing at the Cardiff defence. Wonderfully weighted pass to slot Gundogan through in the build up to the fourth goal.
FW Leroy Sane, 8 — Active from the start, with two swerving runs in the first minute and a half. Obviously energised by the early season speculation.
FW Sergio Aguero, 7 — 300th game for the club brought his 205th goal, a typically clinical clipped strike from Bernardo Silva’s precise low ball in.
MF Ryad Mahrez, 7 — Much better from the Algerian, hitting his first two City goals and looking sharp and involved.
MF Phil Foden, 7 — Came on for Gundogan on 69 minutes and immediately made an impact. Lovely clipped ball to the back post for Bernardo Silva and chances to score, which went begging.
MF John Stones, NR — 73rd minute appearance for Fernandinho, slotting into his position and his role, not for the first time this season.