10 years after winning the Premier League title in the most dramatic way imaginable, Manchester City did their best to do it all again. The result was utter bedlam inside the Etihad Stadium.
Having fallen 2-0 behind to Aston Villa and with Liverpool needing just a goal against Wolves to clinch the title, City scored three goals in five second-half minutes to complete a truly remarkable comeback.
For the 50-odd thousand supporters inside the Etihad and the millions watching around the world, the sight of Ilkay Gundogan wheeling away in celebration, with his teammates around him losing their minds, is one that will be remembered forever.
READ MORE: From Halloween horror to May glory: The story of Man City’s history-making 2021-22 Premier League title season
Another is the images beamed around the world of Pep Guardiola bursting into tears at full-time, the tension and exhaustion of the final day finally proving too much for the City coach.
But amongst the pandemonium, there were a few key moments during City’s game that fans might have missed.
Zinchenko the cheerleader
From the moment Oleksandr Zinchenko ran onto the field as a half-time substitute and immediately roared a message of encouragement to the fans in the first tier of the East Stand, it was clear that the Ukrainian was locked in.
Zinchenko was brilliant at left-back, seemingly recovered from his blip against West Ham and intent on giving City more width in attack.
His performance aside, the 25-year-old never missed an opportunity to encourage the crowd to raise the volume, whipping them into a frenzy every time he ran over to collect the ball. It’s impossible to know whether or not it made a difference, but Zinchenko’s cheerleading certainly encouraged the home crowd to get behind the team when they needed it most.
‘Get the ball!’
Aston Villa continued to time waste in the second half just as they had in the first, with even their supporters getting involved.
When a City half-chance missed the target, the ball flew into the away end. One supporter held onto the ball until a new ball had been found and Robin Olsen had taken his goal-kick, before throwing it back onto the field of play.
One of the City ball boys spotted the rogue ball but was unsure whether or not he should enter the field of play to retrieve it. As if seeking approval, he turned around to face the City fans in the south-east corner.
In unison, hundreds of Blues pointed at the ball and shouted ‘get it’ and the young lad did as he was told. Another needless stoppage to the game was avoided.
Kyle Walker’s celebration
In the seconds that followed Gundogan’s title-winning goal, his on-field teammates tore after him towards the supporters, City’s substitutes spilled onto the pitch and Guardiola started hopping up and down while punching the air.
For about 10 seconds, Kyle Walker entered his own little world. While his teammates ran towards the epicenter of the celebrations he sprinted down the touchline in the opposite direction, sliding on his knees in front of the family stands and yanking the corner flag straight out of the ground.
Sky Sports captured the moment of personal, undiluted celebration for Walker, a player who has endured difficult personal moments this season, as well as playing a pivotal role in City’s success. We just hope he did not aggravate his ankle all in the excitement!
Rodri, at 6ft 2in, is a big man. Juanma Lillo, Guardiola’s assistant, is not.
The Spanish coach must be no taller than 5ft 5in, so the sight of Rodri embracing him in a massive bear hug as the players walked out for the trophy presentation was quite comical.
Lillo was left swinging a good foot-and-half off the ground during the embrace before Rodri gently brought him back down to earth.
Lillo is an understated yet essential part of City’s coaching team, with Rodri’s affection for the 56-year-old showing how highly thought of he is within the dressing room.
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