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EPL PIX: Ruthless City survive scare to retain title in style

Last updated on: May 12, 2019 23:04 IST

Manchester City

IMAGE: City ended the season with 98 points. Photograph: Manchester City/Twitter

Manchester City clinched the Premier League title with the win required to finally end Liverpool's relentless attempt to dethrone them as champions by crushing Brighton & Hove Albion 4-1 on the south-coast on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola's City ended the season with 98 points, two shy of last season's record-breaking 100, while Liverpool's 2-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers saw them finish on 97 -- by far the largest tally for a Premier League runners-up spot.

 

Such was Liverpool's tenacity in the title race that it took an incredible 14th straight league victory for Abu Dhabi-owned City to become the first club for a decade to retain the title.

Neither side dropped a league point since Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw at Merseyside rivals Everton on March 3 with Juergen Klopp's side winning their last nine matches.

Goals from Sergio Aguero, Aymeric Laporte, Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Guendogan gave City an ultimately comfortable victory.

Manchester City

IMAGE: City fell behind to Glenn Murray's 27th minute header but Pep Guardiola's side responded in devastating fashion. Photograph: Manchester City/Twitter

"We have to say congratulations to Liverpool and thank you because they pushed us to increase our standard," said Guardiola who now has two league titles with City to go with the three he won in charge of both Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

There was only a brief moment of panic for City when Glenn Murray's header gave Brighton a surprise 27th minute lead.

But cometh the moment, cometh Aguero.

The Argentine striker, whose last-gasp goal secured City's first Premier League title in heart-stopping fashion seven years ago, levelled 83 seconds later to take him to 20 league goals in five successive seasons with City.

Aymeric Laporte's thumping header put City ahead before the break but with Liverpool, who began the day one point behind, leading against Wolves, hope remained at Anfield that something extraordinary could happen in the south-coast sunshine.

But when City winger Mahrez drove an unstoppable shot past Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan's despairing dive just past the hour and Gundogan's majestic free kick found the net in the 72nd minute the City fans could get the party started.

City have now won four league titles in eight seasons but captain Vincent Kompany, whose sublime shot earned a crucial 1-0 win over Leicester City on Monday to keep his side's fate in their own hands, said this was the most satisfying of them all.

"Back to back, it was the hardest and most satisfying ever. Liverpool were exceptional this year. I don't mean to rub it in -- they didn't deserve to lose," Kompany said.

"But we played against such a good team all season and until now we were able to stay in front."

Spaniard Guardiola can now became the first manager to claim the English domestic treble if City beat Watford in next week's FA Cup final, having already scooped up the League Cup.

He was given the bumps by his players after the trophy was delivered while City's fans belted out their anthem "Blue Moon".

City began the day looking edgy and, with Brighton's fans chanting that Liverpool had scored against Wolves, an incredible week of football drama looked like it had one last twist, especially when Murray headed home an inswinging corner.

Two hundred and seventy miles north, Liverpool's fans hardly had time to start dreaming, however, before David Silva, City's master craftsman, slipped in Aguero who fired under Ryan.

The swagger returned to City and after Mahrez's shot was well saved by Ryan, the resulting corner saw defender Laporte power home only his third league goal of the season.

Brighton centre back Lewis Dunk reminded City of the precariousness of the situation with a dipping free kick that keeper Ederson did well to turn over on the stroke of halftime.

But after the break it was all City.

Mahrez, the magician behind Leicester City's incredible title triumph in 2016, cut in and let fly with his right foot to spark delirium from the City fans packed in behind the goal.

City have now taken an almost unbelievable 198 points in the last two seasons and Gundogan's free kick took their goal tally in the last two Premier League campaigns to 201.

Mane double as Liverpool win but lose out on title

Liverpool

IMAGE: Liverpool players celebrate. Photograph: Liverpool FC/Twitter

Liverpool's 29-year wait for a league title will continue after they had to settle for runners-up spot behind Manchester City despite Sadio Mane scoring twice in a 2-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers on the final day of the Premier League season.

The victory for Juergen Klopp's side became irrelevant to the title outcome as City won 4-1 at Brighton & Hove Albion to ensure their second straight league crown.

Liverpool, beaten once in the Premier League this season and through to the Champions League final, finished one point behind City with 97, a record total for a team coming runners-up.

Mane put Liverpool ahead in the 17th minute, meeting a low cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold and sweeping home from close range.

For 21 minutes, the Anfield crowd knew that Liverpool were temporarily in the top spot but as news of City's progress at Brighton filtered through Liverpool's intensity faded.

Liverpool survived a couple of scares after the break but eventually made sure of the win when Mane added his second in the 81st minute, again assisted by Alexander-Arnold whose deep cross was nodded home by the Senegalese at the back post.

Fulham thrashed 4-0 by Newcastle in final Premier League appearance

EPL

IMAGE: Newcastle United's Salomon Rondon celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Ayoze Perez. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Already-relegated Fulham's season in the Premier League came to an end with a whimper rather than a bang as they were hammered 4-0 at home by Newcastle United.

Goals from Jonjo Shelvey, Ayoze Perez, Fabian Schar and Salomon Rondon meant Rafael Benitez's Newcastle ended the season in 13th place.

Scott Parker, now in charge at Fulham on a full-time basis, now faces the task of engineering his side's return from the second-tier Championship after ending the season in 19th place.

Shelvey smashed in his first goal of the season in the ninth minute, bringing down a high corner kick outside the area before unleashing a thunderbolt over the heads of the Fulham defenders and beyond the reach of keeper Sergio Rico.

Perez doubled the visitors' lead two minutes later when Rico parried a shot from Mohamed Diame straight into the path of the Spaniard, who deftly flicked in his 12th goal of the campaign.

Newcastle's Schar headed in a Matt Ritchie corner in the 61st minute, and Rondon snuck in a fourth shortly before the final whistle, bursting into the area and firing straight into Rico's chest before directing the rebound into the far corner.

Chelsea held by Leicester but point enough for third place

Chelsea

IMAGE: Leicester City's Ben Chilwell in action with Chelsea's Pedro. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Gonzalo Higuain missed two first-half chances as Chelsea were held to a 0-0 draw by Leicester City at King Power Stadium, but the point was enough to secure third place in the Premier League for Maurizio Sarri's side.

Chelsea, who play Arsenal in the Europa League final later this month, finished the campaign with 72 points, one point clear of Tottenham Hotspur in fourth.

Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard, who has been the subject of much speculation that he could move away from Stamford Bridge, was dropped to the bench, while there was no place in the match-day squad for N'Golo Kante as he succumbed to a hamstring injury.

The two best chances of the opening half fell to Higuain, who put his first effort wide of the right post and then missed on the left when well-placed on both occasions.

Hazard was introduced with 20 minutes remaining and had an appeal for a penalty after tumbling in the box, but referee Anthony Taylor waved play on as neither side were able to find a winner.

Woeful Man United end season with 2-0 defeat by Cardiff

Manchester United

IMAGE: Manchester United's Marcus Rashford speaks with Jesse Lingard after the match as Mason Greenwood and Angel Gomes look on. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Manchester United ended their Premier League campaign with a 2-0 home defeat by relegated Cardiff City after Nathaniel Mendez-Laing struck in each half to give the Bluebirds a fine farewell from the top flight on Sunday.

With nothing but pride at stake on a sunny afternoon at Old Trafford, United produced another dreadful performance which stretched their poor run to just one win from their last seven Premier League games.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was clearly unhappy with their loss of form in the home straight which saw them finish sixth, 32 points behind champions Manchester City.

“It will take some time to close in on the top, we finished five or six points behind third, fourth and fifth and that has to be our aim,” said the club’s former striker.

“The top two teams have set a standard higher than before and we have to take up the next challenge.

“The work starts now, everyone has the summer off but we have to come back with a different mentality and different attitude.”

Mendez-Laing opened the scoring with a 23rd-minute penalty after he was fouled by Diogo Dalot, as United, fielding half a dozen academy graduates, missed a string of chances in an action-packed first half before Josh Murphy nearly grabbed a second for Cardiff.

Murphy set up the second in the 54th minute when he weaved his way into the penalty area and delivered an inch-perfect cross to the unmarked Mendez-Laing, who tapped in from close range.

Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge then pulled off a pair of superb saves to deny Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba, either side of Bobby Reid’s rasping volley which sailed inches wide at the other end.

Visiting manager Neil Warnock was upbeat about Cardiff’s prospects of making a swift return to the top flight.

Aubameyang fires Arsenal to battling win at Burnley

Arsenal

IMAGE: Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates with team mates after scoring their second goal. Photograph: Scott Heppell/Reuters

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a second-half brace to help the London club finish their Premier League campaign with a 3-1 victory at Burnley on Sunday that left them fifth in the table.

Aubameyang opened the scoring against the run of play in the 52nd minute, latching on to a poor backpass from Burnley’s Jack Cork and slotting the ball past goalkeeper Tom Heaton.

The Gabon international, who hit the post and forced a sharp save in the early stages of the feisty clash, doubled his tally 11 minutes later by meeting Alex Iwboi’s searching cross with a superb volley at the back post.

Burnley were not ready to give up without a fight, however, and pulled a goal back two minutes later when Ashley Barnes nodded in Johan Gudmundsson’s cross from the left.

They pushed for an equalising goal and went close through substitute Peter Crouch, but it was Arsenal who scored again through teenager Eddie Nketiah in added time to secure the win and finish the season with 70 points.

Aubameyang, who wasted another clear opportunity to add to his impressive league tally, finished with 22 goals alongside Liverpool forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane at the top of the scoring charts.

Tottenham draw 2-2 with Everton to finish fourth

Tottenham Hotspur toasted their extraordinary feat of reaching the Champions League final for the first time by booking their place in next season's competition, clinching fourth spot in the Premier League with a 2-2 draw at home to Everton on Sunday.

Spurs were practically guaranteed a top-four spot as they led north London rivals Arsenal by three points and an eight-goal superior goal difference heading into the final game but the draw meant they missed out on finishing in the top-three, with Chelsea taking third place instead.

Eric Dier smashed home from close range in the third minute to put Spurs ahead in the third minute in a celebratory atmosphere following their against-the-odds win over Ajax Amsterdam, but former Arsenal forward Theo Walcott equalised in the 69th minute with a classy curling finish into the bottom corner.

Everton's traveling fans had been more preoccupied with events in the title race, hoping bitter rivals Liverpool would not win the league, and a cheer rang out from their end each time news filtered through of Manchester City goal against Brighton.

Everton went ahead three minutes later when Turkish forward Cenk Tosun bundled the ball over the line after a goalmouth scramble.

Their lead did not last long, though, as Spurs' Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen netted with a curling free kick in the 75th, ensuring his side ended the campaign on 71 points.

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