City come from behind to smash Brighton and retain title on dramatic final day

Manchester City suffered a first-half scare before battering Brighton 4-1 to retain their Premier League title and leave Liverpool despondent.

News had just been flooding in at the Amex that Sadio Mane had given Liverpool the lead when Glenn Murray stunned City with a headed finish at the near post from a corner delivery, leaving Ederson all at sea. Before the full implications of that Murray goal had set in for the City faithful, Pep Guardiola’s side had levelled. Just 88 seconds later, in fact, Sergio Aguero – so often the man for the big occasion – popped up with a crucial equaliser.

After the restart, Mahrez – who was handed a surprise start ahead of Phil Foden and Leroy Sane – made amends for a penalty miss against Liverpool earlier in the season with a stunning finish to put the tie beyond Brighton with 63 minutes on the clock. And Ilkay Gundogan put the gloss on another fine performance with a delightful free-kick to seal back-to-back titles for City in style.

The final whistle sparked wild celebrations from the City players, staff and supporters alike. After a roller-coaster campaign in which they were pushed all the way by Jurgen Klopp’s side, they win the title with an incredible 98 points, one ahead of The Reds. They’re the first team to retain the title since Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side of 2009.

Having already won the Carabao Cup, City will now look to complete a domestic treble when they play Watford in the FA Cup final on Saturday, May 18.

TALKING POINT

Brilliant City get over the line in style: In an absorbing title race that changed hands countless times throughout an unforgettable season, it should come as no great surprise that there were more twists and turns on an intriguing final day. City could have frozen after conceding the opener, but once again they showed great character to respond as only champions could. Over two incredible seasons, Pep’s side have accumulated 198 points, setting the bar incredibly high – so high, in fact, that Liverpool were a point short with 97. Guardiola may have been appointed to deliver a Champions League but a domestic treble would be more than a comforting consolation. City will look to finish the job when they play Watford in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City): Aguero, forever the man for the big occasion, deserves huge credit for a crucial equaliser, while Mahrez defied his critics with a wonderful performance. But Gundogan was City’s best man on the day with an inspirational display in midfield. His range of passing was breathtaking, never losing a ball, and his free-kick put the cherry on the cake.

Ilkay Gundogan of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his team's fourth goal during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Manchester City

Ilkay Gundogan of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his team’s fourth goal during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Manchester City-Getty Images

PLAYER RATINGS

Brighton: Ryan 6, Bruno 6, Duffy 5, Dunk 5, Bernardo 5, Knockaert 6, Kayal 6, Bissouma 5, Jahanbakhsh 5, Gross 5, Murray 6. Subs: Montoya n/a, Locadia 5, Andone 5.

Man City: Ederson 5, Walker 6, Kompany 6, Laporte 7, Zinchenko 7, Gundogan 9, David Silva 8, Bernardo Silva 8, Mahrez 8, Aguero 8, Sterling 7. Subs: Danilo n/a, Otamendi n/a, De Bruyne n/a.

KEY MOMENTS

27′ – GOAL! Brighton 1-0 Man City: YOU WON’T BELIEVE THIS! BRIGHTON ARE AHEAD! Ederson comes for a corner delivery and gets nowhere near it, allowing Murray to head in at the near post. Incredible!!!

28′ – GOAL! Brighton 1-1 Man City: AGUERO LEVELS! FOOTBALL! Dear me. Magnificent from David Silva to let a ball through his legs and the man of the moment Aguero pounces, slotting the ball past a helpless Ryan. 

38′ – GOAL! Brighton 1-2 Man City: CITY ARE AHEAD! Laporte wriggles free from his marker Murray to steal un unmarked to head home from the resulting corner!

63′ – GOAL! Brighton 1-3 Man City: THAT SHOULD DO IT! Mahrez scores a fantastic goal to give City breathing space in the game! The Algerian drops a shoulder to leave his marker to dead and fires a lovely shot into the top corner. Ryan got a hand to it but couldn’t keep it out.

72′ – GOAL! Brighton 1-4 Man City: They’re retaining their title in some style now! Gundogan bends a wonderful free-kick over the wall and into the top corner. The City fans can really start to enjoy their afternoon now!

Sergio Aguero of Manchester City celebrates

Sergio Aguero of Manchester City celebrates-Getty Images

KEY STATS

  • Liverpool became the first team in top-flight history to win as many as 30 games and 97 points in a season and not win the title. Additionally, no side has ever previously lost just one game in a top-flight season and not won the title. 
  • This was the eighth time the Premier League title has been decided on the final day of the season, with Manchester City winning it on three of those occasions (2011-12, 2013-14 and 2018-19).
  • Man City and Liverpool have combined to win 195 points in 2018-19; the most accumulated by the top two in a single English top-flight season. 
  • Manchester City have won their fourth Premier League title – only Manchester United (13) and Chelsea (5) have ever won more in the competition.

Source: Eurosport

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