MANCHESTER, England (AP) – Manchester City won their sixth Premier League title in 11 seasons on Sunday, scoring three times in five minutes to come from behind to beat Aston Villa 3-2 to stop Liverpool’s challenge in the final .
After starting the day in first place, City were in danger of a historic choke when they won twice to trail Villa 2–0 at home. Took Alke Gundogan’s header to start the comeback in the 76th and Rodri equalized two minutes later by placing the ball through a tight gap in the bottom corner.
Celebrations erupted in the Etihad Stadium 81st when Gundogan tapped Kevin de Bruyne’s cross.
The importance of that goal became clear moments later. Liverpool were tied 1–1 against Wolverhampton but Mohamed Salah put the second-placed team 2–1 in the 84th minute. That scoreline would have moved Liverpool to first place if City had stepped up their fight to not only take the lead.
The danger was still there – Andy Robertson sealed Liverpool’s 3–1 win – while City would have accepted the title had he accepted a late equalizer.
But Pep Guardiola’s side held on to victory in a thrilling climax, retaining the trophy on the final day in a way that was more nervous than expected given City’s 14-point lead in January.
City’s fourth championship success in five seasons produced a first for Guardiola. It is the first time City have sealed the title in front of their own fans, who took to the field in the final whistle against Villa in thousands.
“It was an incredible game,” Gundogan said. “We are humans and, going down 2-0, the chances were slim. But we had to do simple things and score two goals quickly and then 10 minutes for the third goal gave us the right lift.
“It was about getting that goal and then the momentum was in our favor then being able to score three goals in a matter of minutes. These are the days when you look back, it was an incredible game.”
Although it went down the wire, it came without any of the pains of 10 years ago when City’s first Premier League title was achieved in the final minutes of the season.
The success that led to City’s first championship crown in 44 years – with Roberto Mancini as manager – marked the beginning of an era of dominance enjoyed by the club, transformed by the flow of investment from Abu Dhabi.
City are now enjoying a steady stream of titles that once saw crosstown rivals United gather under Alex Ferguson. City’s rise coincided with the retirement of Scott – who won the Premier League 13 times from 1993 to 2013 – and the collapse of Manchester United.
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The teams entered the final round on Sunday, with City 32 points ahead of United and with Liverpool a major threat in Guardiola’s side. In the last five seasons, City have not won the trophy, ending Liverpool’s 30-year title drought in 2020.
But it will be another season in which City will be unable to win the biggest prize in European football – the Champions League – while Liverpool fight the final against Real Madrid on 28 May.
While Liverpool’s net transfer spending over the past five years has been around $250 million, City’s has been over $530 million.
City’s financial strength was not enough to convince Tottenham to sell Harry Kane earlier this season, leaving Guardiola without a recognizable striker to hold the title. Nevertheless, City were able to break the British transfer record by signing Jack Grealish for £100m ($139m), even though the midfielder started only sparingly.
City have already strengthened their attack for next season, with Borussia Dortmund signing Erling Haaland for 60 million euros ($63 million), one of Europe’s most exciting young forwards. Adds one to the squad.
Nevertheless, the Abu Dhabi ownership of the club and its actions remain a concern for human rights activists and less wealthy rivals.
Human rights violations by the United Arab Emirates are highlighted by fans of the city, who largely ignore how their club has been used by a state as a tool of soft power that erodes its image. Exploits the glamor of the world’s biggest sport to purge.
The owner of the city, Sheikh Mansoor, has only been seen in one game as his 14-year-old owner. Mansour, who is the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, was recently condemned by the British government for hosting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
City were fined €10 million ($12 million) in 2020 for obstructing a UEFA investigation into their finances following leaks of internal correspondence at the club. But the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the two-year Champions League ban because claims that the club had disguised a source of income as sponsorship over companies owned by Abu Dhabi were either rejected or The investigation was found to have happened long ago. ,