Alvin Jones, Staff Writer
Manchester City captain Fernandinho (center) hoists Manchester City’s 21-22 PL Trophy. Photo// Getty Images
The English Premier League went all the way down to the wire last weekend with the title, European football, and safety from relegation all up for grabs.
Ten years ago, Manchester City won the Premier League under the most dramatic possible circumstances, coming back from a 2-1 deficit with two goals in stoppage time in the last game of the season. It was a goal from Sergio Aguero, the club’s striker and all-time leading scorer, in the 93rd minute that sealed a first PL title for City. It is arguably the club’s most iconic moment.
On Sunday, Man City sealed another title (their 6th total and 4th in five years) in similarly dramatic fashion.
Going into the game, City led title rivals Liverpool by a single point with a favorable goal difference. A win at home against 13th placed Aston Villa would seal the league for City. Meanwhile, Liverpool faced the Wolverhamton Wanderers at home, needing a win and at least a draw in the City-Villa game.
The day started quickly in City’s favor, an early goal from Wolves attacker Pedro Neto made it 1-0 Wolves. Neto put home a Jimenez cut-across and put City in the driver’s seat. Meanwhile, City put pressure on Villa, looking ready to hoist the trophy.
Ederson watches Villa defender Matty Cash’s opening goal fly into the net. Photo//Tom Jenkins/ The Guardian
That was until Villa defender Matty Cash flipped the script, scoring a header in the 37th minute by turning over a cross from Lucas Digne past City keeper Ederson. Liverpool found an equalizer in their game in minute 24 through Sadio Mane. Going into halftime, City were still on course for the title, but trailing 1-0 at home.
City manager Pep Guardiola responded with substitutions, bringing off capitan Fernandinho (playing his final game for City) for Oleksandr Zinchenko. He also brought on midfielders Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling. Villa responded with another goal.
Former Liverpool star Phillipe Coutinho brought down a headed pass from Ollie Watkins. He then took a touch to pass City defender Aymeric Laporte and finished coolly with a bottom corner shot through Laporte’s legs and past Ederson. The Etihad deflated, a Liverpool goal would see the Reds beat City to the title. What happened next was incredible.
In the 75th minute, substitutes Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan combined for City’s opener. Sterling’s inch-perfect cross found Gundogan at the back post. City needed two more, and two minutes later they found the equalizer. After a sublime piece of dribbling, Zinchenko found midfielder Rodri outside the box. Rodri placed a shot into the bottom corner for his 7th, and most important goal of the season.
A third goal confirmed the title win for City and brought the roof off the stadium. It was Gundogan, who tapped in a pass from Kevin de Bruyne. The goal was set up by a powerful run by De Bruyne and the substitute calmly placed his second of the day past Olson.
Sterling (left), Gundogan (Center) and Gabriel Jesus (Right) celebrate the winning goal. Photo// Tom Jenkins/ Guardian
Liverpool would eventually win against Wolves thanks to late goals from Salah and Robertson, but it would not matter as City’s win confirmed their league title. It took 93 points, 99 goals, and three goals in five minutes during the last game of the season to win the league. City pulled it off, however, confirming a fourth win in five seasons.
Pep Guardiola is now one of only two managers to achieve such a feat, the other being Man United legend Sir Alex Ferguson. The standard of quality City have set is hard to catch, a signature win for one of the best teams on earth.
Liverpool missed out on a potential quadruple, however, as they have a date with Real Madrid next week in the Champions League final. A chance to continue what has been a historic season for the Reds and secure a 7th European trophy. It is a more than worthy consolation for ending up on the wrong side of one of the best title races of all time.
Jack Harrison celebrates the winner against Brentford, securing another PL season for Leeds. Photo//Craig Mercer/MB Media/ Getty Images
Leeds United and American manager Jesse Marsch stayed up in the league and avoided relegation after a 2-1 win at Brentford. Former MLS standout Jack Harrison sealed the win with a 93rd minute deflected goal.
After a tumultuous season at Leeds, which saw beloved manager Marcelo Bielsa sacked after a poor run of form, there was relief. Burnley were not as lucky, a 2-1 loss to Newcastle saw them relegated, ending a six year stint in the top flight.
Elsewhere, a 5-0 thrashing of Norwich saw Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur achieve a spot in the Champions League for the first time in three years.
Spurs beat out Arsenal, who will finish 5th and in the Europa League spots. Manchester United qualified for the Europa League despite a 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace. New manager Erik Ten Hag will play European football in his first season at United.
A 2-2 draw with Brighton saw Europa League semi-finalists West Ham miss out on qualification, and they will play in the Europa Conference League next season.