Pep Guardiola branded his Manchester City stars “legends” for securing a fourth Premier League title in five years following a breathless end to the season against Aston Villa.
A decade on from Sergio Aguero sealing the crown in a jaw-dropping 3-2 final day win, a rocking Etihad Stadium witnessed similar drama just as the title appeared to be slipping from their grasp.
Matty Cash and former Liverpool favourite Philippe Coutinho scored against stunned City, who knew the crown would head to Anfield if Jurgen Klopp’s Reds eventually found a way to beat well-drilled Wolves.
Liverpool ended up 3-1 victors but City by that point had launched a five-minute turnaround rendering that immaterial, with substitute Ilkay Gundogan scoring either side of Rodri’s strike in another unforgettable 3-2 victory.
“In the last five years winning four Premier Leagues, these guys are legends already,” a beaming Guardiola said after his side maintained their one-point advantage over Liverpool.
“I’m sorry, people have to admit it. This group of players are absolutely eternal in this club because what we achieve is so difficult to do.
“Just Sir Alex Ferguson with United has done it years ago two or three times, now I realised again the magnitude of Sir Alex Ferguson and his United.”
City’s day was soured slightly when it was revealed Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen was “assaulted” amid scenes of bedlam, with thousands of City fans pouring on to the pitch at the full-time whistle.
City issued an apology to the Swede and vowed to indefinitely ban the fan responsible for the attack, and Guardiola said: “I don’t know how (to stop it). We are so sorry. It’s the bad news of today.”
Liverpool were unable to exert any pressure on their rivals after falling 1-0 down at Anfield when Pedro Neto struck within three minutes, even if Sadio Mane levelled midway through the half.
Mohamed Salah and Andrew Robertson struck late on but Liverpool’s hopes of winning an unprecedented quadruple – ahead of next weekend’s Champions League final against Real Madrid – were ended.
“The boys played an incredible season,” Klopp said. “The whole journey of 21-22 so far is absolutely exceptional.
“I am proud but I’m disappointed, of course. It’s not cool but it’s not completely unexpected, obviously. It was clear before the game that a lot of things have to happen.
“Congratulations to Man City and Pep Guardiola, all staff and all players, the whole club, for being champions. We were close but in the end not close enough.”
At the other end of the table, Burnley’s stay in the Premier League was ended after a 2-1 defeat at home to Newcastle as the Clarets were leapfrogged by Leeds, who won at Brentford by the same scoreline.
“Suffer,” Burnley caretaker boss Mike Jackson said when asked what he would do next. “That won’t go away for a long, long time. In fact it won’t. It will always be there. It’s something I’ll have to live with that won’t go away…”
Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani gave a resounding backing to head coach Jesse Marsch in the hours after the club secured their top-flight status.
He said in a statement: “We believe that with time and a full pre-season, Jesse will be the man to take this club forward.”
Tottenham guaranteed their place in the Champions League next term with a one-sided 5-0 win at Norwich, where Son Heung-min shared the Golden Boot with Salah after scoring two goals.
Arsenal made light work of Everton in a 5-1 victory at Emirates Stadium yet still had to resign themselves to playing Europa League football next season following Antonio Conte’s side’s win over the Canaries.