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 final 15 minutes on Monday (AEST).
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.
All three of City’s goals were scored in a frenetic five-minute period, from the 76th-81st minute in the final match of the season.
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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.
Goals from Matty Cash and former Liverpool favourite Philippe Coutinho looked set to gift the Reds the title.
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 sidefooted 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.
‘An unlikely source’
Guardiola’s decision to start with 37-year-old Fernandinho at centre-back in his final appearance for the club and John Stones out of position at right-back backfired for the opening goal on 37 minutes.
Lucas Digne sped past Stones and hung up a cross for Cash to head in powerfully at the back post.
Ollie Watkins then overran a big chance to double Villa’s lead as Fernandinho was caught under a simple ball over the top.
Guardiola realised the error of his ways at the break as Fernandinho was hauled off for Oleksandr Zinchenko.
City were instantly a more potent attacking threat as Gabriel Jesus fired over Joao Cancelo’s dangerous cross with the goal gaping.
However, they were again grateful to Watkins’‘ wastefulness 10 minutes into the second-half as he burst clear on goal and dragged wide with just Ederson to beat.
Coutinho was not so generous with a stunning control and finish to seemingly hand his former employers the title.
The Brazilian’s £142 million (A$252 million) move from Liverpool to Barcelona in 2018 helped fund the team that under Klopp could still win a treble of cup competitions this season if they beat Real Madrid in next weekend’s Champions League final.
However, they remain one top-flight English league title behind Manchester United’s record of 20 thanks to a remarkable rally from the blue half of Manchester.
Guardiola’s other two substitutes combined to give the home fans and team hope when Gundogan headed in Sterling’s cross.
Rodri has become an unlikely source of crucial goals this season and the Spanish international stroked home his most important yet two minutes later.
A winner then seemed inevitable as Villa buckled under wave upon wave of City attack.
It duly arrived nine minutes from the end as De Bruyne drove to the byline and flashed the ball across goal for Gundogan to apply the finishing touch.
Last-gasp rescue act saves Leeds in relegation battle
Leeds manager Jesse Marsch hailed his players’ “character” as they retained their place in the Premier League by the skin of their teeth rounding off their campaign with a last gasp 2-1 win over Brentford.
Leeds had started the final day of the season in the bottom three but it was Burnley, who went down instead of them after their six season stay in the Premier League came to an end with a 2-1 home defeat by Newcastle.
Burnley had only needed to match Leeds’s result to stay up due to a far better goal difference.
The victory meant Leeds had become the first side since Wigan in 2011 to survive after starting the final day in the bottom three.
Leeds had gone into the match hardly brimming with confidence having accrued just two points from the last 15.
Their nerves and those of their travelling fans were on edge when Sergi Canos drew Brentford level — Rapinha had given the visitors the lead with a penalty — with 12 minutes remaining.
However, Canos was sent off two minutes later for a second bookable offence reducing the hosts to nine men — the injured Kristoffer Ajer had to go off 13 minutes from time when his side had already used their three substitutions.
Jack Harrison then sent the Leeds fans into raptures as he rifled home a fine effort in the fourth minute of time added on — 15 of their total haul of 38 points have come thanks to goals in the 90th minute or time added on.
Whilst the players jumped on top of Harrison Marsch fell flat on his back in delight in the technical area.
“This group has been able to dig deep in injury time and find goals and the character is clear and it’s a privilege to work with these guys,” he told Sky Sports.
Premier League ladder
1. Manchester City W28 D6 L3 GD72 P90
2. Liverpool W27 D8 L2 GD66 P89
3. Chelsea W20 D11 L6 GD42 P71
4. Tottenham W21 D5 L11 GD24 P68
5. Arsenal W21 D3 L13 GD9 P66
6. Manchester United W16 D10 L11 GD1 P58
7. West Ham W16 D8 L13 GD11 P56
8. Leicester W14 D10 L14 GD0 P52
9. Brighton W12 D15 L11 GD-4 P51
10. Wolverhampton W15 D6 L17 GD-3 P51
11.Newcastle W13 D10 L15 GD-19 P49
12. Crystal Palace W11 D15 L12 GD3 P48
13. Brentford W13 D7 L18 GD-7 P46
14. Aston Villa W13 D6 L19 GD-1 P45
15. Southampton W9 D13 L16 GD-21 P40
16. Everton W11 D6 L21 GD-19 P39
17. Leeds W9 D11 L18 GD-38 P38
18. Burnley W7 D14 L17 GD-18 P35
19. Watford W6 D5 L27 GD-42 P23
20. Norwich W5 D7 L26 GD-56 P22