Manchester City have produced a stunning come-from-behind victory to shatter Liverpool’s hopes and once again be crowned champions of the English Premier League on a dramatic final day, with Ilkay Gundogan the hero.
- Burnley were relegated after losing to Newcastle
- Manchester City came from two goals down to defeat Villa and claim the title
- Mo Salah scored a late goal for Liverpool but their victory over the Wolves was not enough to claim the title
However, the joy in Manchester led to the latest in a series of pitch invasions – at various levels in English football – which have caused concerns for the safety of players and others.
Elated fans rushed the pitch after Manchester City clinched a 3-2 win over Aston Villa to secure the club’s fourth Premier League crown in five seasons.
It nearly turned nasty, however, as Villa keeper Robin Olsen was hit by a fan in the melee as he tried to make his way off the ground.
Manchester City later released a statement apologizing to Olsen:
“Manchester City would like to sincerely apologize to Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen, who was assaulted after the final whistle at today’s match when fans entered the pitch,” the club said in the statement.
“The club has launched an immediate investigation and, once identified, the individual responsible will be issued with an indefinite stadium ban.”
Going into their final match of the season with a one-point lead over the Reds, the equation had been simple for City: beat Aston Villa and become champions, but on the day it proved harder.
City were down 1-0 at half-time after Matthew Cash scored for Villa, while Liverpool were level with Wolverhampton at 1-1 and level on the ladder with City on 90 points (but behind on goal difference) as the title race went into the final 45 minutes of the season.
City’s problems were then compounded when former Reds midfielder Philippe Coutinho, helping out the club he scored 41 goals for, doubled Villa’s lead in the 67th minute.
The goal was as simple as they come as 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.
At the same time Liverpool were pressing against Wolves but could not find their moment as Anfield was on edge.
With 15 minutes to go it seemed City might have blown their title chance until 5 minutes of play changed the complexion of the title race.
First, Gundogan struck in the 76th minute as he headed in a Raheem Sterling cross to make it 2-1 to Villa.
Then two minutes later Rodri levelled for City as the Spaniard side-footed an Oleksandr Zinchenko pull back into the net from outside the area.
And then Gundogan struck again on 81 minutes as he tapped in a Kevin de Bruyne cross to give City a 3-2 lead with what would be the goal that sealed the title, despite Liverpool going on to defeat Wolves 3-1 after late goals to Mohamed Salah and Andrew Robertson.
Gundogan himself was stunned with the comeback.
“It was an unbelievable game, I do not know what to say to be honest,” he said.
“It’s been fantastic, the last 20 minutes, scoring three goals, unbelievable.
“I think we had to do the simple things again in the best possible way and scoring the two goals in three minutes gave us the right lift.
“We are proud of ourselves today.”
The title is City’s fourth in five seasons but the first time that they have claimed the title at home.
For Liverpool, it was a day of disappointment, the mood at Anfield different to the one of joy in Manchester but that could change next week when they take on Real Madrid in the Champions League final next weekend in Paris.
“The lads have given everything, so you can not have too many issues,” Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson told Sky Sports.
“We’ve given absolutely everything all season, right until the last day, and in January we’d have your hand off to take it to the last day.
“We’re a bit disappointed today. We’ve got to say congratulations to City, of course, and then focus on the match next week.”
While not winning the title was difficult for Liverpool, it was a much worse day for Burnley, who after seven seasons in the top-flight will drop to The Championship.
Needing a win to stay ahead of Leeds, Burnley fell to Newcastle 2-1, as Leeds managed a 2-1 victory over Brentford to secure another season in the Premier League.
ABC / Reuters
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