All the talk before this match was of the quadruple and City’s 100th goal of the season.
The chatter after it was of numbers 102 and 103!
And it was this game’s third that stole the show; a real humdinger from Yaya Toure.
However, let us get the century maker off our chests first. It came in the 14th minute courtesy of Edin Dzeko and early enough to settle any anxiety or ‘jinx syndrome’
It wasn’t the best of the 100 club by a long chalk with David Silva being accused of handball in the build-up and the Bosnian star scuffing his shot to the point that Kevin McNaughton thought he’d scooped it to safety before being caught ‘bang to rights’ by goal-line technology.
Despite being penned back for long spells Cardiff had the temerity to try and spoil the party by grabbing an equaliser in the 29th minute. Craig Noone took full advantage of some bad defending in the heart of the back four to beat Joe Hart. Noone’s high didn’t last long!
It took just four minutes for the angered home side to restore their lead with Jesus Navas sweeping home after a glorious pass by Toure, some strong running by Dzeko and an unfortunate, but timely, intervention by Gary Turner.
However, the real show stealer, unceremoniously shoving the century setter out of the spotlight, was Toure’s effort
...City 4 Cardiff 2...
The African player of the Year was assisted on his way by Sergio Aguero though the midfielder can take the lion’s share of the credit running from inside his own half before potting a left footer into the bottom corner with 76 minutes played.
Cardiff’s red-breasted Bluebirds flapped into Manchester on the back of months of internal turmoil looking for the thermal wind that would lift them out of the Premier League’s bottom three and until Toure’s heroics had looked far from trap door fodder. Hart was busy enough.
They travelled north with the slight comfort that they had beaten an embryonic Pellegrini side 3-2 back in the balmy days of August when the title favourites had yet to find their defensive solidity, rhythm and poise away from the Etihad Stadium and when all was peace, light, and rabid expectation in the Valleys.
The two sides have gone their separate ways since with Pellegrini winning the trust and admiration of City fans still mourning the Mancini era and Cardiff parting company with Malky Mackay, the man who guided them to football’s land of milk and honey.
Charged with reviving fortunes in South Wales is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer whose pre-match assertion that United might still number one in Manchester garnered him plenty of abuse from the a home crowd willing to trust this season’s evidence to the contrary.
Having plonked eleven goals past West Ham and Blackburn in their previous two home games with much changed sides, Pellegrini reverted to virtually his strongest line up for this contest.
Toure’s sore back and Silva’s calf allowed them to take their places in the midfield and current top defensive tandem Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis were at the heart of the back four. Fernandinho rested his troublesome calf on the bench
One of the intriguing questions ahead of the match was would Aguero’s scoring cameo in the FA Cup replay rout of gallant Rovers be enough to earn him a starting berth
...City 4 Cardiff 2...
The answer was ‘no’ but he arrived in the nick of time just after the hour mark and made one and scored one. Quite an entrance!
His goal, City’s fourth, rocketed into the top corner after Toure had repaid the Argentine’s earlier help with an assist of his own.
Frazier Campbell netted and injury time consolation for Cardiff and all kinds of records fell as City added four more to their goal tally though the most important statistic of all was the winning of three more points.
Now for the cups!
CITY v WATFORD: With great family prices for the FA Cup 4th round tie with Watford on 25 January (3pm kick-off), the Blues are expecting another bumper gate for the visit of the Hornets
Last season, almost 47,000 packed the Etihad Stadium for the FA Cup third round tie with Watford and with kids prices starting at just £1 and adult prices starting at just £15, demand is likely to be high as the Blues look to progress to the last 16 of a competition that has seen City feature in two Wembley finals in the past three seasons.
Don’t miss out – details here.