In Focus: The Premier League stars who lit up Matchday 38
An epic Premier League campaign finished in appropriate fashion on Sunday with the title, top-four and relegation races all decided on the last day.
Manchester City produced a mesmeric turnaround against Aston Villa to seal a fourth league crown in five years, while Leeds’ secured survival with a dogged triumph at Brentford.
Check out LiveScore’s five standout stars of a pulsating Matchday 38.
Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City)
With the Premier League title shockingly slipping from their grasp on Sunday afternoon, City needed a hero — and supersub Ilkay Gundogan stepped up to the plate.
The German had watched on from the bench for the opening 68 minutes as Pep Guardiola’s champions threatened to undo a season of hard work with a limp final-day showing against Aston Villa.
Yet it was the 31-year-old, the most reliable of performers since becoming his manager’s first signing back in 2016, who fittingly spearheaded an iconic comeback with two precious strikes.
First, he nodded home fellow substitute Raheem Sterling’s cross to halve the arrears before capping a sensational turnaround by tapping in a precious third just five minutes later.
Gundogan’s future remains up in the air going into this summer but yesterday’s efforts have secured him a place in the Citizens’ history books regardless.
Heung-Min Son (Tottenham)
Away from the title race, Tottenham were also celebrating after thumping Norwich 5-0 to snatch Champions League qualification from under the noses of bitter rivals Arsenal.
Key to their success at Carrow Road — and indeed this season as a whole — was the brilliant Heung-Min Son, who nabbed himself a share of this year’s Premier League Golden Boot alongside Mohamed Salah thanks to a brilliant brace.
His second strike was a particular highlight, bending a rasping shot beyond the hapless Tim Krul from 20 yards which led to him being mobbed by his team-mates in front of the travelling fans.
In previous campaigns, Harry Kane has had to shoulder the bulk of Spurs’ goalscoring burden but Son’s 23 strikes this term have seen the likeable 29-year-old snatch the limelight.
What is more, with none of his goals having come from the penalty spot compared with five of Salah’s, the South Korean can truly be considered the division’s sharpest shooter in 2021-22.
At the other end of the table, Leeds’ dramatic 2-1 victory at Brentford was enough to secure their top-flight survival at the expense of Burnley.
Needing to better the Clarets’ result at home to Newcastle to survive, Jesse Marsch’s Whites did the business thanks to goals from Raphinha and Jack Harrison, while the Lancashire outfit fell to a 2-1 defeat.
It was a day where their Brazilian winger, who coolly converted a 56th-minute penalty under the most intense pressure imaginable, once again came up trumps when his side needed him.
The 25-year-old was a constant menace for the Bees defence and even drew the foul for Sergi Canos’ red card, showcasing why so many top clubs are keen to lure him away from Elland Road.
Barcelona have supposedly seen an opening bid of £46million rejected, suggesting the Yorkshire outfit are ready to do all they can to keep hold of their talisman.
Callum Wilson (Newcastle)
Newcastle have arguably been the standout team of 2022, with Eddie Howe’s Magpies flying clear of relegation trouble — and Callum Wilson’s double ensured they ended on a high note at Burnley.
Unfortunately, it has been a frustratingly familiar campaign for the ex-Bournemouth striker with Sunday marking only his 18th appearance of the season due to hamstring and calf problems.
Despite those injury woes, Wilson retains his lethal touch in front of goal and netted his seventh and eighth strikes — ending the Clarets’ six-year stay in the top tier in the process.
He sent Nick Pope the wrong way from the penalty spot in the first half before converting Allan Saint-Maximin’s cross after the break, leaving the Toon boss overjoyed for his No9.
Howe said: "I’m delighted for him. He took his goals very well and his two performances since returning to the team have been top class. What a professional he is."
Ayoze Perez (Leicester)
Leicester have finished their campaign strongly after a slow start and forward Ayoze Perez managed to follow suit in the Foxes’ season finale against Southampton.
After netting eight times in 2019-20, the versatile Spaniard was expected to kick on again last year but was restricted to just two Premier League goals — both against bottom club Sheffield United.
He has been in and out of the side this term as a result and remarkably, was without a single strike once again until an elegant brace against the Saints.
Perez, 28, first expertly steered home James Maddison’s sumptuous cross before drilling Ricardo Pereira’s cutback into the near top corner.
It was a delicious double which must leave Leicester fans hoping the ex-Newcastle man can reproduce that kind of form on a more consistent basis going forward.