Zinchenko injury limits Guardiola's options for Cup semis

Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne has admitted that his goal against Cardiff in their Premier League clash on Wednesday was intended as a cross.
Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne has admitted that his goal against Cardiff in their Premier League clash on Wednesday was intended as a cross.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Pep Guardiola counted the misses and the costs of a comfortable 2-0 win over Cardiff that took Manchester City back to the top of the Premier League as he faced the prospect of an FA Cup semi-final without a fit left-back.

City, still in the hunt to win four trophies this season, play Brighton at Wembley tomorrow, bidding to reach their second final of the campaign after their League Cup triumph in February.

But they will be without left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko, who had more passes than the entire Cardiff team, 21-13, by the time he limped off with a hamstring injury in the 18th minute on Wednesday.

And, with England man Fabian Delph also injured and Frenchman Benjamin Mendy yet to prove his match fitness, Guardiola admitted he has a problem, saying: "It doesn't look good for the next games. We don't have many options."

Sergio Aguero is also a doubt, with the ace striker not risked against Cardiff with crucial games coming up, particularly the Champions League quarter-final first leg against Tottenham next Tuesday.

At least City won an eighth straight league game, while being able to make seven changes as the league leadership changed hands for the 25th time this term with six games to go.

But the manager would not be happy that his team missed a slew of chances despite a quick start with Kevin de Bruyne's sixth-minute blistering goal, which the midfielder confessed was intended as a cross.

Guardiola said: "We have the feeling if we drop points, we will not be champions.

"But people said it would be easy against Cardiff. The way we started, the focus on what we have to do. The goals we scored with the chances, we should have scored more, that's the regret."

Leroy Sane struck shortly before the break, driving a low shot into the far corner after Gabriel Jesus chested a cross into his path.

But the Brazilian was guilty of missing a string of chances, including after just 34 seconds, when he slid in but failed to turn de Bruyne's cross into an open net.

That the scoreline stayed respectable despite City's 27 shots was largely due to Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who made a series of fine saves.

Manager Neil Warnock, who is trying to save Cardiff from joining relegated Huddersfield and Fulham, said: "They started like Real Madrid of 10 years ago, everybody is so quick and confident on the ball, with their movement. I've not seen anything like it."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2019, with the headline 'Zinchenko injury limits Guardiola's options for Cup semis'. Print Edition | Subscribe