Man City back atop Premier League with 2-0 win over Cardiff
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City rested many of its best players and was still too strong for Cardiff in a 2-0 win that lifted the defending champions back to the top of the Premier League on Wednesday.
Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane scored in the first half as City won an eighth straight league game and jumped a point clear of Liverpool with six games remaining.
Amid a hectic period of fixtures for a City team chasing a quadruple of trophies, manager Pep Guardiola rested the likes of Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Kyle Walker while top scorer Sergio Aguero was missing because of injury.
Still, it was all City at Etihad Stadium and only some brilliant saves from Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge kept the score respectable for a visiting team that is in the relegation zone and five points from safety.
“These players have helped us,” Guardiola said of his fringe players, “they are guys who did not play for two months and are not happy. We have a good squad and without it we cannot fight for the four competitions. It’s impossible. We are here in April because we have confidence in the players.”
De Bruyne set City on its way in the sixth minute by running onto Aymeric Laporte’s through-ball and driving a left-footed shot into the roof of the net from an acute angle.
Sane made it 2-0 in the 43rd, driving an angled shot into the far corner after a lay-off by Gabriel Jesus.
It was like shooting practice in the second half, with 18-year-old midfielder Phil Foden — making his first league start — hitting the post among City’s best chances.
Guardiola was particularly impressed with Foden, who captained England to the Under-17 World Cup title in 2017 and is regarded as one of the country’s best young talents.
“Phil, we know it, he’s young but he can do everything,” Guardiola said. “He can create chances, he’s incredible with his vision. It’s not easy for him with (David) Silva, Bernardo (Silva), (Ilkay) Gundogan, De Bruyne, but he wants to be here, he’s delighted to be here. I assure you next year he will play more minutes. That’s the process. He’s 18 or 19. For the next decade he will be important.”
One negative for City was the sight of left back Oleksandr Zinchenko coming off with an apparent right hamstring injury. With Benjamin Mendy currently out of favor, left back could be a problem position for Guardiola for the next few weeks.
City, which has already won the League Cup and is into the Champions League quarterfinals, resumes its quadruple bid with an FA Cup semifinal against Brighton on Saturday.