Manchester City looked on the brink of letting the Premier League title slip out of their grasp when Philippe Coutinho extended Aston Villa’s, but Ilkay Gundogan’s inspired substitution turned the game on its head.
For the Blues’ opener, the German international astutely found himself unmarked at the back post and headed in a pinpoint Raheem Sterling cross to give City a glimmer of hope.
And in the 81st minute, the midfield maestro was key to unlocking Villa’s stern defence once again, as he was perfectly positioned to get on the end of an inch-perfect Kevin De Bruyne cross to score the goal that ultimately won City the Premier League title.
As Pep Guardiola took the bold decision of substituting the in-form Bernardo Silva for Gundogan, he explained the rationale behind his late change.
"Gundo is the best runner in the second position we have, we arrive in the sides with Phil, Joao, Aleks, and other people with a sense of tempo in the final third, he's the best,” he revealed.
The 31-year-old has clearly proved that his movement is up there with some of the best of the best last season, going on to become City’s top scorer in the league with 13 goals.
Up against Aston Villa’s rigid low block, it was Gundogan’s uncanny ability to find acres of space that proved to be crucial, as the visitors simply could not contend with his ability to ghost his way into acres of space.
Guardiola’s tactical acumen simply cannot be doubted, as the likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko and Raheem Sterling also proved to be decisive introductions in the second half, playing a vital role in all of City’s three goals.
As Ilkay Gundogan repaid his manager’s faith with a title-clinching brace, it’s safe to say his addition in the 68th minute is arguably the greatest substitution in Premier League history.
Despite some rumours of the German's departure, he continues to be a key component in everything City have won under Guardiola.