Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Man City lift EPL title in dramatic style

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Manchester City won their fourth English Premier League, EPL trophy in five years on Sunday but nearly let it slip from their hands.

They had to come from two goals down to beat Aston Villa 3-2, and edge closest rivals Liverpool with just a point.

Manchester City scored their three goals inside an electrifying five minutes late in the second half.

After an afternoon of high nerves, laced with the fear of Liverpool pipping them to the title at the post, relieved and jubilant Manchester City fans poured onto the field at the final whistle.

Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan scored twice as Manchester City took the vital three points, making Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers irrelevant.

“The moment we found a goal it changed everything. We were not playing in normal circumstances but you have to handle it,” said Guardiola.

“Gundogan is the best inside runner we have. We were arriving down the sides and we needed a player with the sense of tempo in the box and he is the best.

“We are legends. When you win the Premier League four times in five seasons it is because these guys are so, so special. We will be remembered,” he said.

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The day was set up for a party and there was a relaxed mood around the ground before kick-off.

But that was soon to change as Aston Villa, managed by former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, provided a twist in the storyline.

Matty Cash put the visitors in front in the 37th minute with a fine header from a Lucas Digne cross from the left flank, and the mood in the stadium instantly changed.

Manchester City were far from their fluent best, lacking finesse as they piled on the pressure in search of a leveller but rarely troubling Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen.

The edgy mood among the home fans turned to desperation after Philippe Coutinho then doubled the lead for Aston Villa with a goal of pure simplicity.

Ollie Watkins headed on from a long Olsen goal-kick, and the former Liverpool midfielder Coutinho produced a brilliant first touch to cut inside and then drilled the ball into the bottom corner.

Liverpool were level with Wolves at the time of Coutinho’s strike, but Manchester City knew that a goal for Juergen Klopp’s side could now take the title away from them.

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But then came the Manchester City comeback that sealed the title, regardless of events at Anfield.

Two substitutes combined for the first, with Gundogan heading in a Raheem Sterling cross at the back post in the 76th minute.

Half-time substitute Oleksandr Zinchenko, on the left flank, then showed composure to pull the ball back to Rodri.

The Spaniard delivered a pinpoint finish — side-footing into the bottom corner from 20 metres.

The title-winning goal came in the 81st minute when Kevin De Bruyne whipped in a low cross to Gundogan, who tapped in from close range, sending the crowd into rapturous delight.

“The magnitude of your achievement is defined by the magnitude of your rival,” reflected Guardiola.

“I’ve never seen a team like Liverpool. I know it’s tough but a huge congratulations to them. They help us to be a better team,” he added.

Results and standings in 2021/2022 English Premier League after final match day fixtures:

Brighton & Hove Albion 3 West Ham United 1
Crystal Palace 1 Manchester United
Arsenal 5 Everton 1
Brentford 1 Leeds United 2
Burnley 1 Newcastle United 2
Chelsea 2 Watford 1
Liverpool 3 Wolverhampton 1
Leicester City 4 Southampton 1
Manchester City 3 Aston Villa 2
Norwich City Tottenham Hotspur 5
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Team P W D L F A Pts
1 Manchester City 38 29 6 3 99 26 93
2 Liverpool 38 28 8 2 94 26 92
3 Chelsea 38 21 11 6 76 33 74
4 Tottenham Hotspur 38 22 5 11 69 40 71
5 Arsenal 38 22 3 13 61 48 69
6 Manchester United 38 16 10 12 57 57 58
7 West Ham United 38 16 8 14 60 51 56
8 Leicester City 38 14 10 14 62 59 52
9 Brighton & Hove Albion 38 12 15 11 42 44 51
10 Wolverhampton 38 15 6 17 38 43 51
11 Newcastle United 38 13 10 15 44 62 49
12 Crystal Palace 38 11 15 12 50 46 48
13 Brentford 38 13 7 18 48 56 46
14 Aston Villa 38 13 6 19 52 54 45
15 Southampton 38 9 13 16 43 67 40
16 Everton 38 11 6 21 43 66 39
17 Leeds United 38 9 11 18 42 79 38
18 Burnley 38 7 14 17 34 53 35
19 Watford 38 6 5 27 34 77 23
20 Norwich City 38 5 7 26 23 84 22

Reuters/dpa/NAN

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