Gündoğan inspires breathtaking comeback to seal Premier League for City
Manchester City were crowned Premier League (PL) champions for the fourth time in five seasons, coming from two goals down to beat Aston Villa in a heart-stopping season finale at the Etihad Stadium.
The highest of stakes produced an atmosphere of simmering tension in east Manchester, as City chased their sixth PL crown. They were no strangers to drama on the final day with the title on the line, having trailed in their decisive clashes in both 2012 and 2019 before going on to be champions. Pep Guardiola’s men were certainly far from their best in a disjointed first half that yielded just a single shot on target.
Perhaps Liverpool’s greatest-ever player, Villa boss Steven Gerrard had plenty of incentive for his side to upset the odds. His side produced a stellar display, remaining compact in defence while carrying a threat on the counter. Shortly before the interval, the visitors punished City’s sloppiness, conceding a shock opener. Makeshift right-back John Stones failed to block Lucas Digne’s cross, which perfectly picked out Matty Cash arriving at the back post to head past Ederson.
City emerged after the break with renewed vigour, as the introduction of Oleksandr Zinchenko provided the team with a better balance. Now on the right, João Cancelo delivered a glorious ball across the face of goal, only for the outstretched Gabriel Jesus to blaze over from point-blank range. Desperation was growing among the City ranks, and that feeling would only grow as Villa doubled their lead from a simple goal-kick. Watkins nodded down to Philippe Coutinho, the former Liverpool man, who spun away from Aymeric Laporte before clinically finishing at the near post.
Guardiola’s substitutions paid dividends as they reduced the arrears. Raheem Sterling’s cross found İlkay Gündoğan at the back post to power past Olsen. Just two minutes later, the hosts were level as Rodri’s low drive expertly found the bottom corner, blowing the roof off the Etihad Stadium. A comeback of epic proportions was complete in the 81st minute, as Kevin De Bruyne’s low cross found the arriving Gündoğan at the back post to hand the ‘Cityzens’ the PL crown.