In what turned out to be an epic final stretch to another epic title race, Manchester City retained the Premier League title in the most dramatic of fashion as they hauled themselves back from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 with three goals in the space of a little over five minutes on Sunday.
Ilkay Gundogan came off the bench to score twice with Rodri also on target as Pep Guardiola’s men held off Liverpool’s title charge to win the league by a point.
In scenes reminiscent of the first of City’s now six league titles in 11 seasons when Sergio Aguero scored a 93rd minute winner to deny Manchester United the title on goal difference, the champions produced a remarkable comeback at the Etihad.
Manchester City are crowned champions after incredible turn around against Aston Villa
Goals from Matty Cash and former Liverpool favourite Philippe Coutinho looked set to gift the Reds the title by putting Villa – coached by Steven Gerrard – 2-0 up against City.
Jurgen Klopp’s men did their job by also coming from a goal down to beat Wolves 3-1 at Anfield, but City’s rescue act ensured Liverpool’s bid for an unprecedented quadruple is over.
Gundogan started the comeback as he headed in Raheem Sterling’s cross at the back post.
Rodri then side-footed home from outside the box and Gundogan completed the fightback by tapping home Kevin De Bruyne’s cross at the back post.
Guardiola said before the game he wanted no repeat of Aguero’s legendary late strike a decade ago.
But the Catalan was the most relieved man in Manchester as he sealed the 10th league title of his coaching career in just 13 seasons.
Fans swarmed onto the pitch to celebrate at full-time and the crossbar at the goal where City scored their goals was snapped under the weight of supporters sitting on it. The atmosphere was very different inside the Etihad 15 minutes from time when they appeared to have handed the title on a plate to Liverpool.
But in the end, a title race that saw both teams cross 90 points, got a deserving winner while Liverpool fought all the way to the end.
Here are some of the reactions to Manchester City winning the title:
“These guys are legends. When you win in this country four times in five years, it is because these guys are so special. They will be remembered forever.
“The last game is special. A lot of emotion against a good Aston Villa team. We are playing in non normal circumstances. We had to handle it. After their second goal it was really difficult. It was ‘get the first goal’, then we had momentum and our people did the rest. Gundo is the best runner we have. After we equalised, we had the feeling we could score again. Winning at home with our fans is the best.”
“I’ve never see a team like Liverpool in my life. I know how tough it is but they help us be a better team season by season. Big congratulations to them.”
— City boss Pep Guardiola
Congratulations to Man City and Pep Guardiola. Thank you to Aston Villa and Wolverhampton for making a proper game of it. It’s not the result we wanted. It was a bit of a rollercoaster. I don’t know the results exactly but I know Villa were 1-0 up –- were they 2-0 up as well? Of course at the moment there’s disappointment here as well. 92 points is absolutely incredible. We wanted it all, but now it’s OK. Finishing second is the story of my life. I’m still record holder for not getting promoted in Germany with the highest points tally. You need to get more points than any other teams, but we didn’t do that.”
— LFC boss Jurgen Klopp
With AFP inputs