Manchester City 3-2 Aston Villa: Gundogan double clinches title

John Skilbeck
Stats Perform
Ilkay Gundogan celebrates Manchester City's title-clinching third goal
Ilkay Gundogan celebrates Manchester City's title-clinching third goal

Manchester City pulled off a stunning fightback to beat Aston Villa 3-2 and snatch the Premier League title as Pep Guardiola's side did it the hard way.

You could not script this drama and be taken seriously. Chasing a fourth title in five seasons, City knew victory would secure that, yet Steven Gerrard had Villa well organised and the hosts struggled to find their usual fluency.

Matty Cash's 37th-minute opener stunned the hosts, and former Liverpool forward Philippe Coutinho left City devastated when he lashed Villa two goals clear in the 69th minute.

But Ilkay Gundogan's header and Rodri's low strike dramatically hauled the hosts level with two goals in three minutes, before super-sub Gundogan slammed home City's third nine minutes from time, scotching Liverpool's title hopes.

It was shaping up from the early stages to be 90 minutes of City attack versus Villa defence and countering, with the hosts having had a shade under 75 per cent of possession in the first quarter. Phil Foden rolled a shot six inches wide, via a slight deflection, and Gabriel Jesus wasted a decent opening.

Villa found the breakthrough when their full-backs combined, Lucas Digne crossing from the left for Cash to head in from eight yards as Joao Cancelo failed to prevent the Poland international attacking the ball at the far post.

Ollie Watkins dithered as another great chance came Villa's way, John Stones dashing back to jostle the striker off the ball.

Jesus missed a glorious opportunity five minutes into the second half when he stabbed over from close range. The Brazilian had another shot charged down, while at the other end Watkins was denied by Ederson's sprawling save after brushing off Aymeric Laporte's challenge.

City were in deep trouble when Coutinho fired Villa two ahead in the 69th minute, fastening on to a flick-on from Watkins and rifling low into the left corner.

Gundogan gave the hosts hope when he headed fellow substitute Raheem Sterling's cross past Robin Olsen in the 76th minute, and then Rodri lashed in from the edge of the box.

Guardiola was leaping around on the touchline, the crowd anticipating a winner, just as when Sergio Aguero's late dramatics delivered the title in 2012, and it came when De Bruyne's delicious ball across goal from the right was met by Gundogan. He could hardly miss. City, from the depths of despair, are champions once more.

What does it mean? Never in doubt...

Of course it had to be 3-2. Ten years since Aguero's stoppage-time strike secured City's first Premier League title with victory by that scoreline against QPR, they have now won the trophy six times. 

There's a statue outside the Etihad Stadium in Aguero's honour. It was novel then but has become almost the norm for City to dominate the league in the years since the Argentinian's heroics. 

There was nothing normal about this game, however, and City looked in a dire position when Coutinho struck, but they found a lease of life. 

Was this as dramatic as 2012? It was touching that level, and the pitch invasion at full time told its own story. Elation. Surprise. Guardiola was in tears. They did it, but goodness knows how.

Super-subs lift City

Roy Keane said on Sky Sports at half-time that City looked "nervous" and had been "sloppy". He was right, they were a mess, and continued to be so for the next half hour. 

But then Sterling delivered a glorious cross, Gundogan headed in, and there was hope. City have now won all six of their final league games of the season under Guardiola. They have denied Liverpool a quadruple chance. All this, with Erling Haaland still to come.

Top Gun-dogan

German midfielder Gundogan came off the bench in the 68th minute, replacing Bernardo Silva, and lit the touchpaper. His goal was followed by Rodri hitting the back of the net 152 seconds later, and when Gundogan poached City's third, for his fourth goal in five Premier League appearances against Villa, he was the hero of the hour.


Premier LeagueAston VillaManchester City
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