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Manchester City win Premier League title after comeback win over Aston Villa

Manchester City win Premier League title after comeback win over Aston Villa
Man City 3-2 Villa Aston: Pep Guardiola’s side were two goals down but scored three in six minutes to retain the title

With echoes of 2012, and both raucousness and relief, Cidade de Manchester celebrate an eighth English title.

A day that for so long looked like it would bring the most anguished frustration so suddenly became a scene of celebration. It didn’t go as late as that day against Queens Park Rangers, but it did have the same 3-2 final score, from even more a flurry.

Sobre 69 minutos, Philippe Coutinho scored to make it 2-0 to Aston Villa, Como Pep Guardiola looked to Ilkay Gundogan rather than Jack Grealish to come on. Sobre 76 minutos, the German had hit his first. De 81 minutos, he’d hit a second and City’s third, to swing the title back to Manchester again.

Villa Aston, who had tried to do their part, just didn’t have enough.

Three goals in five minutes gave Guardiola a fourth title in five years at City. It also meant the club coincidentally pulled clear of Villa’s seven historic titles, to go fifth on their own in the all-time rankings.

That will add an extra bit of satisfaction to a day with so much edge – the home fans similarly singing the Steven Gerrard ‘Demba Ba song’ – since the travelling supporters had been goading City fans with inflatable European Cups to remind them they had actually won the competition.

Guardiola has saved the season in that regard.

It wasn’t what it might have been, but was the core objective of another title, and the Catalan will know that four titles in five years looks a lot better than what might have been three in six.

That is real domination, as City reached a huge 93 points total, to properly reflect their status as the most lavishly-funded sporting project in history.

Que, and all the questions over sportswashing, should not be overlooked amid the euphoria of victory. It was just equally impossible to escape the pure sporting drama.

The City side did what everyone expected although in the most unpredictable and histrionic way. They produced a final day for the ages.

The element that really elevates the drama of such afternoons – or makes it excruciating, depending on your perspective – is just how visibly and drastically the psychology swings on key moments. There can’t be a day in football, in terms of what happens on the actual pitch, that is more about the emotional responses of the players.

<p>Matty Cash gave Villa a shock lead before the break </p>

Matty Cash gave Villa a shock lead before the break

It is a day of suddenly shifting mood, the feel of a stadium going with the action.

Take what happened in the 24th minute. At the exact same moment as Sadio Mane was equalising for Liverpool, Phil Foden was putting the ball narrowly wide of stand-in Martin Olsen’s goal.

It felt like it should have happened in split screen, and certainly split the first half in terms of impetus.

Up until then, there had been a wind behind City. They’d come out in rousing fashion, and to a raucous atmosphere. That was only further charged by the news quickly coming through that Neto had opened the scoring for Wolves at Anfield, and the energy of it all seemed to be getting to a hugely indecisive-looking Olsen.

He didn’t know whether to come or go, and often got it wrong. Olsen looked there to be tested, but that was the thing. The longer City went without a proper chance, the more it was their crowd who were tested, with that tension starting to transmit to the pitch.

That Foden shot was a case in point. Going wide rather than bringing anything out of Olsen, it saw the goalkeeper become more composed, while Guardiola and his players became more agitated.

Villa sensed opportunity. The stadium saw some history repeat itself. In a move so reminiscent of Jamie Mackie’s goal for QPR on that famous day in 2012, Lucas Digne surged down the left to cross for Matty Cash.

Cancelo allowed his fellow full-back that crucial extra space, and Cash powered a header past Ederson.

It was City’s worst nightmare, and one that took them a while to wake up from. There was an extended period when they were all over the place, the most experienced player in Fernandinho having the worst of it. It was like he could barely stay on his feet as Ollie Watkins repeatedly skipped past him.

<p>Coutinho doubled Villa’s lead to help the cause of former club Liverpool </p>

Coutinho doubled Villa’s lead to help the cause of former club Liverpool

There was that assertive focus to Villa, itself reminiscent of West Ham United 1995, most visible in the former Everton player Digne. He really put his body on the line for three essential blocks, one that surely prevented Kevin de Bruyne from scoring.

Even the Belgian, Contudo, was snatching at things. He blazed one good second-chance over at the start of the second half, as City finally started to lay siege, Jesus also firing over from yards under the bar.

The classic subtext of afternoons like this is that the superior side are almost playing themselves, and their own issues, as much as the opposition. The very immediate problem for City, Apesar, was that they were also playing an ultra-committed Villa team. Gerrard had ensured they were putting everything into it.

That was never more visible than when Jesus seemed to get free to turn and shoot in Olsen’s area, only for Callum Chambers to put in the sort of block you only see on days like today.

There was then the sort of storyline you only see on days like today.

A former Villa man, Jack Grealish, was left on the bench. A former Liverpool man, Coutinho, suddenly left City with even more to do.

With Guardiola’s nervous backline again exposed by a basic ball up, the Brazilian was put clean through on goal. He finished with all the assurance of his best days at Anfield, a scything finish into the bottom corner.

It should have been rock-bottom for City. It was instead one of those odd moments that finally sparked City, that set up a finale with echoes of 2012.

The introduction of Gundogan, on instead of Grealish, of course helped. As if now almost released by going 2-0 baixa, City upped it. Sterling lifted it, and Gundogan plundered a header.

<p>Gundogan (deixou) scored twice in a stunning conclusion to the game &ltp/p>

Gundogan (deixou) scored twice in a stunning conclusion to the game

The mood had changed again. The momentum had changed again. The stadium was rocking. Rodri was ready.

Waiting on the edge of the box for a cutback, the Spanish midfielder guided a divine long-range effort into the bottom corner.

City hadn’t yet completed the job but there was already a sense the game was only going one way. It was all going off so quick, também.

With Villa now coming apart in the chaos, gaps appeared. Gundogan again exploited them, the crowd again exploded.

The crowd were left to wait a full 15 minutes for the final whistle but the reality was the game was won.

Villa had given all they could. City had too much. By the time that whistle went, everyone was waiting to run on. The entire crowd emptied onto the pitch, to sing the Gerrard song.

It was about so much more than the Liverpool man, claro. Cidade, Enquanto isso, just had more than Liverpool. It is why, by a single point and some considerable drama, they are again Liga Premiada champions.