Football: Manchester City defend Premier League title, Liverpool finish second

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Monday, 13 May 2019, 11:42AM
Manchester City celebrate winning back to back Premier League titles. (Photo / Getty)
Manchester City celebrate winning back to back Premier League titles. (Photo / Getty)

Manchester City retained the Premier League trophy after coming from behind to beat Brighton 4-1 and see off Liverpool's relentless challenge on the final day of the season on today.

The quality and intensity of the title race was emphasised by City requiring a 14th successive league victory to finish a point above a Liverpool side chasing a first championship crown in 29 years as the top two finished with a record 195 points combined.

"Liverpool was exceptional, I don't mean to rub it in, it is what it is, they didn't deserve to lose," City captain Vincent Kompany said. "It makes me so much more happy that we played such a great team all season."

But during a 21-minute wobble in the first half City looked like throwing away a fourth title in eight seasons.

Sadio Mane put Liverpool in front against Wolverhampton in the 17th minute and a jittery City fell behind 10 minutes later at Brighton.

"We heard the Brighton fans singing '1-0 to Liverpool' just at the moment we conceded," Kompany said.

Even when Sergio Agüero leveled 83 seconds after Glenn Murray's header, City only moved back into top spot when Aymeric Laporte nodded in from Riyad Mahrez's corner in the 38th minute.

It turned out to be the goal that clinched the title.

But there were still nerves to be eased in the second half. Mahrez netted in the 63rd minute, a rare high point in his first season after joining City in a record 60 million pound (then US$80 million) signing in July.

There was a stylish conclusion to City's title defense when Ilkay Gündogan scored directly from a free kick in the 72nd minute for the team's 95th goal in 38 league matches.

"We were creating chances, finding the gaps, imposing ourselves," Kompany said. "Though the pitch was slow I felt we were magnificent. We did everything we needed to do in a game such as today."

City became the first team since Manchester United in the 2007-08 season to retain the trophy, part of a hat trick of successes for Alex Ferguson's team.

With Ferguson long retired and United in freefall, City is the force not only in Manchester but English football. City has won the Premier League four times since the influx of Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth following a 2008 takeover, having only won the title twice before that.

Guardiola has now won eight league titles in his 10 seasons as a coach, stretching back to his debut campaign at Barcelona when he won a treble in 2009 and featuring successes at Bayern Munich.

City remains on course for an English treble, having already collected a League Cup and preparing for the FA Cup final against Watford on Saturday.

"We'll go and celebrate but we're also thinking of that next game on Saturday," Kompany said.

How it played out

17th minute - City 0 Brighton 0, Liverpool 1 Wolves 0 - Sadio Mane puts Liverpool up 1-0 - Liverpool to win title

27th minute - City 0 Brighton 1, Liverpool 1 Wolves 0 - Glenn Murray scores for Brighton - Liverpool to win title

28th minute - City 1 Brighton 1, Liverpool 1 Wolves 0 - Sergio Agüero levels 83 seconds later - Liverpool to win title

38th minute - City 2 Brighton 1, Liverpool 1 Wolves 0 - Aymeric Laporte gives City the lead - Manchester City to win title

63rd minute - City 3 Brighton 1, Liverpool 1 Wolves 0 - Riyad Mahrez all but secures the title with a third City goal - Manchester City to win title

72nd minute - City 4 Brighton 1, Liverpool 1 Wolves 0 - lkay Gundogan makes it four with a spectacular free-kick - Manchester City to win title

80th minute - City 4 Brighton 1, Liverpool 2 Wolves 0 - Mane adds his second but it's not enough for Liverpool who record their 30 win of the season.