REPORT: MAN CITY 4-2 CARDIFF
A brave and resolute performance from the Bluebirds wasn't enough to stop the free-scoring talents of Premier League title challengers Manchester City as Cardiff City succumbed to a 4-2 defeat at the Etihad Stadium.
It was a resolute performance from Ole Gunnar Solskjær's side who could have found it difficult following Edin Dzeko's 14th minute strike. Instead they equalised, an excellent effort from the imperious Craig Noone bringing the Bluebirds level just after the half hour mark.
Parity would last just four minutes however as Jesus Navas regained the advantage for Manuel Pellegrini's side, before two goals in two second half minutes from Yaya Toure and substitute Sergio Aguero put the result beyond doubt.
There was to be a late consolation for Cardiff however, as Fraizer Campbell grabbed his third goal against Manchester City of the season in added time.
City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær made four changes to the side that faced West Ham United at Cardiff City Stadium last weekend. In came the returning Jordon Mutch from injury, while Aron Gunnarsson, Kevin McNaughton and Ben Turner also made welcome returns to the starting eleven.
The half started as many pundits predicted, the home side instantly pushing onto the front foot in search of a remarkable 100th goal in all competitions for the season - within the first minute a McNaughton denial on Dzeko and David Silva's effort past the near post showed what the Bluebirds were up against.
A further save from Marshall kept Dzeko at bay before the home side got the advantage, Silva linking up with the Bosnian International who promptly guided Manchester City in front; McNaughton's clearance off the line proofing redundant in the end as Referee Neil Swarbrick pointed to technology to award the goal.
The title challengers quickly looked for a second as Negredo was denied by Marshall before firing his shot wide when one-on-one with the Scottish stopper - but the Bluebirds remained spirited and got an equaliser soon after.
In a move that would grace any Premier League match, Gunnarsson linked up superbly with winger Noone who confidently cut inside defender Vincent Kompany before firing the ball past Joe Hart and draw the Bluebirds level.
The wingers first ever Premier League goal didn't keep Cardiff level for long however, with the home side regaining their advantage just four minutes later as Navas clinically fired home from Dzeko's charging run forward.
HALF TIME: Manchester City 2-1 Cardiff City
No changes for either side at the break saw the game continue in much the same fashion, the Bluebirds continuing to look a threat on the break as Mutch tested Hart with his shot five minutes into the second period.
It was winger Noone who continued to look Cardiff's most potent threat however, continuing to unsettle opponent Aleksandar Kolarov and the Man City defence, Noone took on an excellent run just after the hour mark which resulted in England International Hart producing another near post stop.
With just over twenty mintues to go, City boss Solskjær introduced Declan John and Craig Bellamy to proceedings in place of Kevin McNaughton and Peter Whittingham - former Man City man Bellamy getting a round of applause from the home crowd as he entered the field at his former club.
The Bluebirds were showing plenty of resolve and more than matching the home side in the second period, but two quick fire goals in as many minutes for Manuel Pellegrini's side quickly faded hopes of taking something from the Etihad Stadium.
Yaya Toure first completed a powerful run from inside his own half by laying off a neat one two with Silva before firing home, with substitute Aguero adding his name to scoresheet minutes later to end the Bluebirds stout resolve.
There was to be late consolation for Ole Gunnar Solskjær's side in reward for a determined display, Campbell getting his third goal against Manchester City of the season to make it 4-2 at Referee Neil Swarbrick's final whistle.
FULL TIME: Manchester City 4-2 Cardiff City
Cardiff City: Marshall; McNaughton (John 62), Caulker (C), Turner, Theophile-Catherine; Whittingham (Bellamy 62), Medel, Gunnarsson (Eikrem 77), Mutch, Noone; Campbell. Subs not used: Lewis; Hudson, Odemwingie, Kim.
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (C), Demichelis, Kolarov, Navas (Clichy 82), Yaya Toure, Javi Garcia, Silva (Milner 80), Negredo (Aguero 61), Dzeko. Subs not used: Pantilimon, Lescott, Nastastic, Fernandinho.