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Man City put their fans through another roller coaster before clinching title

Kevin De Bruyne crosses the ball for substitute Ilkay Gundogan to score the winner in Man City’s title-clinching 3-2 comeback victory over Aston Villa (Martin Rickett/PA Images).
Kevin De Bruyne crosses the ball for substitute Ilkay Gundogan to score the winner in Man City’s title-clinching 3-2 comeback victory over Aston Villa (Martin Rickett/PA Images).

A decade on from Sergio Aguero’s jaw-dropping title clincher, Manchester City again dragged their fans from the depths of despair to dreamland in a wild comeback win that sealed another Premier League crown.

That 2012 triumph has gone down as the greatest final day in top-flight history after Roberto Mancini masterminded a 3-2 turnaround against QPR to snatch the title from Manchester United’s grasp.

That moment has been immortalised around the Etihad Stadium, where a statue of a celebrating Aguero whirling his shirt around his head was recently unveiled among the paraphernalia celebrating the 10-year anniversary of that triumph.

Manchester City v Aston Villa – Premier League – Etihad Stadium
Manchester City fans invade the pitch after the 3-2 comeback win against Aston Villa secured the Premier League title (Martin Rickett/PA Images).

Ilkay Gundogan may well be the star of the show at the 2021-22 reunion after an afternoon of similar drama.

The super sub’s brace helped secure a breathless win by the same scoreline as 2012 to see Liverpool pipped to the title by a single point.

Victory was made all the sweeter by the fact things had looked similarly bleak to the QPR game as the match entered the final 15 minutes.

Much had been made of Steven Gerrard’s helping Liverpool to victory as manager of Villa but few actually thought that might come to pass given City had lost just one league game since October.

The lack of palpable pre-match nerves and tension proved a misnomer as the hosts huffed and puffed without bearing their teeth as fans saw on their phones that Wolves’ early goal had been cancelled out by Sadio Mane at Anfield.

Manchester City v Aston Villa – Premier League – Etihad Stadium
Manchester City fans look dejected with Villa leading 2-0 at the Etihad before City’s spectacular comeback (Martin Rickett/PA Images).

City were not only failing to create clear-cut chances but looked unsteady at the back, which Villa punished in the 37th minute as Lucas Digne’s fine cross was met by a crashing header from Matty Cash.

There were defiant cheers from the home faithful after conceding that goal, but the second was met by a handful heading to the exits in the 69th minute.

Ollie Watkins had been a handful throughout and all too easily beat Rodri in the air to flick onto former Liverpool favourite Philippe Coutinho, who kept his cool before lashing low past statuesque Ederson.

But City are made of stern stuff and were at their relentless best during an unforgettable five-minute period.

Manchester City v Aston Villa – Premier League – Etihad Stadium
Matty Cash (centre) celebrates firing Villa ahead against Manchester City (Martin Rickett/PA Images).

Raheem Sterling crossed for fellow substitute Gundogan to bring hope in the 76th minute, with City fans rising to their feet again as Rodri followed it up two minutes later with a stunning daisy-cutter.

The Etihad Stadium then reached levels last heard in 2012 when star turn Kevin De Bruyne drove a low cross to the far post for Gundogan to tap home from close range.

Guardiola’s bold decision to bring on the Germany international instead of £100million man Jack Grealish paid off in spades and City wound down the clock as Liverpool wracked up a 3-1 win along the M62.

City denied the Reds glory on the final day, just as they did in 2014 and 2019, and jubilant fans poured onto the pitch as a frantic, tense and fascinating race came to a fitting conclusion.

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