Manchester City claimed the win needed to finally end Liverpool’s relentless attempt to dethrone them as Premier League champions as they hit back from a goal down to crush Brighton and Hove Albion 4-1.
City ended the season with 98 points, just two short of last season’s record-breaking 100, while Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers saw them end on 97 – by far the highest tally for a Premier League runners-up.
Needing a 14th successive league win to be certain of prevailing in an unprecedented title duel, City fell behind to Glenn Murray’s 27th-minute header but Pep Guardiola’s side responded in devastating fashion.
Sergio Aguero levelled 83 seconds later and Aymeric Laporte’s header put City ahead before the break.
Liverpool, which began the day one point behind, had hoped for something extraordinary to happen in the south coast sunshine.
And they certainly played like they believed that, especially when Sadio Mane put them ahead in the 17th minute, meeting a low cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold and sweeping home from close range.
Liverpool eventually made sure of their win when Mane added his second in the 81st minute, again assisted by Alexander-Arnold, whose deep cross was nodded home by the Senegalese at the back post.
But with Riyad Mahrez driving an unstoppable shot past Brighton’s Socceroos keeper Mathew Ryan’s despairing dive just past the hour, City’s fans could finally get the party started as the victory for Jurgen Klopp’s Reds became irrelevant.
Ilkay Gundogan’s majestic free-kick made it 4-1 to put the icing on another glorious day for City who is the first club to retain the Premier League title for 10 years.
City has now won four league titles in eight seasons but boss Guardiola said this championship win was the toughest of his glittering career to date.
“We worked a lot,” he said. “I have to say congratulations to Liverpool of course. Thank you so much. They helped to push us and to increase our standards from last season.
“To compete against this team pushed us to do what we have done. It’s incredible, 198 points in two seasons.”
Liverpool boss Klopp, when asked if there was anything else his team could have done this season, said on Sky Sports: “Not really.
“I know people will find always something and they tell us here the point, there the point.
“To get 97, 98 points … It’s not always about outplaying the opponent, it’s about staying in the race, staying on track, keep believing. That is what we did. I think it was for them difficult to get rid of us and we couldn’t get rid of them.
“Being second in the Premier League is not exactly what I wanted to be tonight, but we take that. It is for us the first step, that is how we see it. It was the first step (for) this team.”