Man City took care of business despite falling down a goal at Brighton, winning its second straight Premier League title.

By Avi Creditor
May 12, 2019

The Premier League's intense title race came down to the final day, and after sweating out a few early minutes, Man City has claimed the trophy again.

Man City survived an early scare at Brighton, coming back from an early 1-0 deficit with four unanswered goals from Sergio Aguero, Aymeric Laporte, Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan to stay permanently atop the table with a 4-1 win at Amex Stadium. Liverpool held up its end by beating Wolves 2-0, but City edged the Reds by a single point to cap arguably the greatest race between two sides down the stretch. 

Man City ended the season on a 14-match winning streak in the league, ending on 98 points. That's one more than Liverpool, which won nine straight to end the season, last dropping a point in the league on March 3. Such has been the standard set by these two fantastic clubs. Liverpool lost just once all season–that being to Man City in a game which it had a ball cleared off the line by John Stones, saving a goal by 11.7 millimeters–and its 97 points are by far the most for a runner-up. It's of little consolation to Liverpool, whose wait for a top-flight title will go into its 30th year.

For Man City, the title is its second in a row, fourth in eight seasons and sixth all time.

At Brighton, the expected played out early. Man City dominated the opening minutes of possession, with Brighton throwing numbers back to congest its penalty area. Bernardo Silva nearly broke through in the fourth minute after a Brighton turnover as it tried to play out of its area, but he was ultimately stifled by goalkeeper Mat Ryan.

Brighton didn't wilt after Man City's opening and came out looking to play spoiler. Alireza Jahanbakhsh fired a warning shot by Ederson's goal, coming close with a long-range, right-footed strike after a quick counter from the hosts in the ninth minute.

Man City absorbed the blow and then went back on the offensive. Bernardo Silva tried to pick out Sergio Aguero, the hero of the 2011-12 season finale, for a header inside the area, but the Argentine couldn't quite meet the cross with precision, directing his chance away from goal.

While Man City couldn't find an early way through, at Anfield, Liverpool took the provisional upper hand in the title race. Sadio Mane scored just after the quarter-hour mark, temporarily sending the Reds atop the table. The goal came off a deflected cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold, which fell into Mane's path inside the area. The Senegal international finished comfortably, giving Liverpool a 1-0 lead and, in the live table, a two-point edge over City.

Brighton strengthened Liverpool's lead in the race by stunning Man City on a 27th-minute corner kick. Glenn Murray headed down Pascal Gross's inswinging corner at the near post, beating Ederson and giving Brighton a 1-0 lead.

That lead lasted for mere 83 seconds, though. Aguero brought City back on level ground–and a goal away from retaking the lead in the title race–with a close-range finish from the left channel, making it 1-1 on the day.

City nearly got that go-ahead goal at the half-hour mark, with Bernardo Silva's header saved well by Ryan on the goal line.

The goal came eight minutes later, though. Just as Brighton scored on a header off a corner, Man City did as well, with Aymeric Laporte charging through the area to head down from Riyad Mahrez's corner, sending City back to the top of the live table with a 2-1 lead in the 38th minute.

City was nearly given another boost at Anfield as Wolves came close to an equalizer, with Matt Doherty rattling the crossbar.

Back at the Amex Stadium, Brighton gave Man City a scare with the last kick before the halftime whistle, as Lewis Dunk's free kick forced Ederson into a save that tipped the ball over the bar, keeping City in the lead and atop the table with 45 minutes remaining in the season.

Man City pushed for an insurance strike to relieve some nerves, and Pep Guardiola's side had a great couple of chances in the 57th minute, only for both to be blocked before troubling Ryan. At Anfield, where a Wolves goal would also give Man City some cause for relief, the visitors pushed and threatened Liverpool to begin the second half, looking like the more likely of the two to score.

The breathing room came in the 63rd minute through Mahrez, whose penalty miss earlier in the season at Liverpool loomed large over this title race of fine margins. The former Leicester City star uncorked a right-footed blast from 18 years, giving Man City a 3-1 edge and letting the club put one hand on the trophy.

Ilkay Gundogan removed any semblance of doubt less than 10 minutes later. He'd come close on a chance right after Mahrez's goal, missing just wide of the right post, but he couldn't have hit a more precise ball on his 72nd-minute free kick, curling a right-footed strike inside that same post to beat Ryan and give City a commanding 4-1 lead.

Liverpool, its fate clear, still fought to the finish, with Mane scoring his second of the day to give his side a 2-0 lead and further muddle a four-player race for the Premier League's golden boot. In the end, Mane, his teammate, Mohamed Salah, and Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang shared the league's goal lead with 22 on the season.

Man City had little problem seeing out the result at Brighton, though, putting the finishing touches on a sensational race that demanded perfection from both sides for weeks on end.


Here were the lineups for both games:

BRIGHTON vs. MAN CITY

LIVERPOOL vs. WOLVES

While the Premier League season comes to an end for both clubs, both have more trophies to play for in the coming weeks. Man City, which has already won the League Cup, will face Watford on May 18 for the FA Cup title. Liverpool, meanwhile, will face Tottenham in an all-Premier League Champions League final in Madrid on June 1. 

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)