Tue, May 14, 2019 - Page 16 News List

City retain Premier League title

CONSOLATION PRIZES:Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah shared the Golden Boot award with teammate Sadio Mane and Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang


Manchester City pose with the trophy as they celebrate winning the Premier League at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, England, on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

Manchester City on Sunday retained the English Premier League title in style, holding their nerve to come from behind and thrash Brighton & Hove Albion to hold off a charging Liverpool after a nail-biting campaign.

Pep Guardiola’s team won 4-1 at Brighton to finish with 98 points — the second-highest total in Premier League history — as Liverpool beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 at Anfield to finish a single, agonizing point adrift.

City, who strung together 14 league wins at the end of the season, are the first side to retain the title since their bitter rivals Manchester United managed the feat in 2008-2009 and they remain on course for the first domestic treble in English soccer history, but Guardiola’s team did not have it all their own way as they won a fourth English title in eight seasons and the sixth in the club’s history.

A day of drama on England’s south coast was in keeping with an astonishing season in which the lead switched hands time after time.

Liverpool drew first blood on Sunday, with Sadio Mane striking in the 17th minute to put them mathematically top of the table and on course for their first English top-flight title since 1989-1990, before the Premier League era even started.

City fans’ nerves were shredded even further when Glenn Murray put Brighton in front from a corner in the 27th minute, drawing a huge roar at Anfield, but those cheers were quickly muted, with Guardiola’s side level just 83 seconds later, Sergio Aguero staying onside and keeping his cool to finish after a brilliant ball from David Silva.

Ten minutes later, the unmarked Aymeric Laporte rose to head in Riyad Mahrez’s corner to complete the turnaround for City, before second-half goals from Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan put the result beyond doubt.

“We have to say congratulations to Liverpool and thank you so much — they pushed us to increase our standards,” Guardiola told Sky Sports. “It’s incredible, 98 points, to go back-to-back. We made the standard higher last season and Liverpool helped us — to win this title we had to win 14 in a row. We couldn’t lose one point.”

“It’s the toughest title we have won in all my career, by far,” added the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach.

City jetted back north to celebrate with about 10,000 of their fans at the Etihad Stadium late into the evening, with supporters singing along to Wonderwall by Oasis.

Players took it in turns to hoist the Premier League trophy, with club captain Vincent Kompany and Guardiola last to lift it, together.

“I’m so, so proud,” said Kompany as the party got underway at 10:45pm. “This team is amazing. We’re able to fill this place at this time of night. Thank you so much.”

City finished a record 19 points clear of Manchester United last season, but this has been a totally different campaign.

Guardiola’s side had to dig deep to see off the relentless challenge of Liverpool, who lost just one Premier League game all season.

The outcome was cruel on Liverpool, who are second behind only United in the all-time list of English champions with 18 titles.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp praised City, but vowed his side would be back.

“City got the points they have because we were there,” Klopp told the BBC. “They have 198 points in two years, that’s special. We made such big steps. It’s only the first step. Always after a good year we lost key players [in the past], but we won’t [this time] so we’ll be there again.”

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