MANCHESTER, England — Manchester City clinched a sixth Premier League title in 11 seasons on Sunday by scoring three times in five minutes to come from behind to beat Aston Villa 3-2 in the finale and hold off Liverpool's challenge.
After starting the day in first place, City was at risk of an historic choke when it conceded twice to trail 2-0 at home to Villa. It took İlkay Gündoğan's header to begin the comeback in the 76th and Rodri equalized two minutes later by placing the ball through a tight gap into the bottom corner.
The Etihad Stadium erupted in celebrations in the 81st when Gündoğan tapped in Kevin De Bruyne's cross.
The importance of that goal became clearer moments later. Liverpool had been locked at 1-1 against Wolverhampton but Mohamed Salah then put the second-place team 2-1 in front in the 84th minute. That scoreline would have taken Liverpool into first place had City not just mounted its fightback to take the lead.
The jeopardy was still there — with Andy Robertson sealing Liverpool's 3-1 win — while City would have conceded the title had it conceded a late equalizer.
But Pep Guardiola's side held on for the win in a thrilling climax, retaining the trophy on the final day in a manner that was more jittery than expected considering City briefly had a 14-point lead in January.
City's fourth championship success in five seasons produced a first for Guardiola. It's the first time City has sealed the title in front of its own fans who spilled onto the field in their thousands at the final whistle against Villa.
"It was an unbelievable game," Gündoğan said. "We are human beings and, after going 2-0 down, the chances were just very, very small. But we had to do the simple things and scoring two goals quickly and then having 10 minutes to score the third one gave us the right lift.
"It was about getting that goal and then the momentum was on our side then were able to score three goals in just a few minutes. These are the days you look back to, it was an unbelievable game."
Although it went down to the wire, this one came without any of the anguish of 10 years ago when City's first Premier League title was only clinched in the final minutes of the season.
That success, which produced City's first championship crown in 44 years — with Roberto Mancini as manager — ushered in the era of dominance enjoyed by a club transformed by the influx of investment from Abu Dhabi.
City is now enjoying the steady stream of titles it once had to watch crosstown rival United gather up under Alex Ferguson. The rise of City coincided with the retirement of the Scot — who won the Premier League 13 times from 1993 to 2013 — and the decline of Manchester United.
The teams entered the final round on Sunday with City 32 points ahead of United and with Liverpool the greater threat to Guardiola's side. In the last five seasons, the only time City didn't win the trophy was when Liverpool's 30-year title drought ended in 2020.
But it will be another season ending with City unable to win the biggest prize in European football — the Champions League — while Liverpool will be contesting the final against Real Madrid on May 28.
While Liverpool's net spending on transfers has been around $250 million in the last five years, City's has been more than $530 million.
City's financial might wasn't enough to convince Tottenham to sell Harry Kane ahead of this season, leaving Guardiola to achieve this title without a recognizable striker. Yet, City was able to break the British transfer record to sign Jack Grealish for 100 million pounds ($139 million) even though the midfielder only started sparingly.
City has already reinforced its attack for next season, with a deal clinched with Borussia Dortmund to sign Erling Haaland for 60 million euros ($63 million), adding one of Europe's most exciting young forwards into the squad.
Still, concerns remain for human rights activists and less wealthy rivals about the club's Abu Dhabi ownership and its actions.
Human rights violations by the United Arab Emirates are glossed over by City fans who largely overlook how their club has been used by a state as a tool of soft power that exploits the glamor of the world's biggest sport to cleanse its image.
City owner Sheikh Mansour has only been seen at one game during his 14 years as owner. Mansour, who is deputy prime minister of the UAE, was condemned by the British government for recently hosting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
City was fined (euro)10 million ($12 million) in 2020 for obstructing a UEFA investigation into its finances following leaks of internal correspondence at the club. But the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a two-year Champions League ban because claims that the club disguised the source of income as overvalued sponsorships from companies linked to its Abu Dhabi ownership were either rejected or found to have happened too long ago to be investigated.
Liverpool ends EPL as runner up behind City despite win
LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool's bid for an unprecedented quadruple of major trophies ended in agonizing fashion on Sunday despite coming from behind to beat Wolverhampton 3-1 on the final day of the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp's team also needed Manchester City to drop points against Aston Villa — managed by Liverpool great Steven Gerrard — and the leaders recovered from two goals down to win 3-2 in a dramatic finale at Etihad Stadium.
Liverpool finished a point behind City — just like in the 2018-19 season — and missed out on a record-tying 20th English league championship.
It is still an extraordinary season for Liverpool, which has won both the FA Cup and League Cup and will play in the Champions League final against Real Madrid next weekend.
Pedro Neto gave Wolves the lead in the third minute after Liverpool defender Ibrahima Konate misjudged a long ball forward, allowing Raul Jimenez to run through and cross for Neto to tap in.
Sadio Mane equalized in the 24th, and Liverpool wound up fulfilling its part of the final-day bargain by scoring through Mohamed Salah and Andrew Robertson in the final six minutes.
Arsenal settles for 5th in EPL despite win over Everton
LONDON — Arsenal finished the season with a 5-1 win over Everton on Sunday but it wasn't enough to dislodge archrival Tottenham from fourth place in the Premier League.
Arsenal had to settle for fifth place — and Europa League football next season — after Tottenham grabbed the last Champions League spot with a 5-0 win at Norwich on the final day of the campaign.
It made for a bittersweet finale for the Gunners, who had a firm grip on fourth place just 10 days ago, before consecutive losses at Tottenham and Newcastle handed the advantage to Spurs.
Arsenal, which hasn't qualified for the Champions League since 2016 after 19 straight seasons in Europe's top competition under Arsene Wenger, finished two points behind Tottenham — having been four points ahead before a 3-0 defeat in the north London derby on May 12.
Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah put Arsenal 2-0 up after 31 minutes at the Emirates Stadium before Donny van de Beek pulled a goal back for Everton just before the halftime break. Defenders Cedric Soares and Gabriel then netted within three minutes of each other to put the game out of reach before the hour mark. Martin Odegaard added the fifth in the 82nd.
Everton staved off relegation fears on Thursday after a 3-2 comeback victory over Crystal Palace and finished 16th.
Man United slumps to loss, qualifies for Europa League
LONDON — Manchester United slumped to one last defeat of a sorry season by losing 1-0 to Crystal Palace on the final day of the Premier League thanks to Wilfried Zaha's first-half goal on Sunday.
Watched by recently hired manager Erik Ten Hag in south London, United was able at least to avoid the embarrassment of lining up in the Europa Conference League next season because of West Ham losing away to Brighton.
It meant United clinched sixth place for a spot in the Europa League but finished on 58 points — its lowest-ever total in a single season in the Premier League. The campaign showed how far the team is behind Manchester City and Liverpool, which were involved in a dramatic final day that saw the title again lifted at the Etihad Stadium.
Chelsea ends season of ownership turmoil with win vs Watford
LONDON — Ross Barkley scored in injury time as Chelsea concluded a season of ownership turmoil with a 2-1 win over Watford in the final round of the Premier League on Sunday.
The former England midfielder nodded in Reece James' cross for Chelsea's late winner with prospective owner Todd Boehly at Stamford Bridge again to finally see the team win in person.
The Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner was joined by Swiss billionaire and consortium partner Hansjorg Wyss, who was making his first visit to the west London stadium since the deal to buy the club from sanctioned owner Roman Abramovich was agreed earlier this month.
They will hope their Chelsea takeover can finally be completed in the next week, ahead of the May 31 deadline when the government license that allows the club to operate expires.
Tottenham routs Norwich to clinch Champions League place
NORWICH, England — Tottenham clinched Champions League qualification with a 5-0 win over relegated Norwich in the last round of the Premier League on Sunday.
Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski both scored twice and Harry Kane got the other goal as Spurs finished fourth, two points ahead of Arsenal, which defeated visiting Everton 5-1.
Coach Antonio Conte's team really only needed a point to be sure of finishing ahead of its crosstown rival on account of Spurs' superior goal difference, but there was no sign of settling for a draw against the league's last-place side as the visitors attacked from the start.
Uruguay midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur set up the first two goals, squaring the ball for Kulusevski's easy finish in the 16th minute, then crossing for Kane in the 32nd.
Kane had been a doubt to play due to a bug during the week but he recovered to take his league tally to 17 goals for the season. Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul won't want to watch a replay of the goal.
Krul's attempted pass went straight to Bentancur in his own penalty area and he crossed for Kane to head into the unguarded net.
Kulusevski sealed the result in the 64th when he shook off his marker and curled a fine shot into the far corner after being set free by Kane.
Then the Son show started. Lucas Moura set up the South Korean's 22nd goal of the season in the 70th, and Son let fly with a brilliant strike inside the far post five minutes later to take his final tally to 23. Only Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scored as many.
West Ham loses at Brighton, into Conference League
BRIGHTON, England — West Ham missed the chance to snatch a dramatic return to the Europa League after squandering a lead to lose 3-1 to Brighton in the Premier League on Sunday.
The Hammers, who lost in the semifinals of the continental competition just over two weeks ago, were on course to leapfrog Manchester United into sixth position following Michail Antonio's brilliant 40th-minute opener.
But second-half strikes from Joel Veltman, Pascal Gross and Danny Welbeck turned the game in Brighton's favor to prevent David Moyes' team capitalizing on United losing 1-0 at Crystal Palace.
The east London club must be content with seventh place and a spot in the Europa Conference League next season following a result which saw Brighton secure a first ever top-half finish in the Premier League — and the highest league position in the club's 121-year history.
Burnley's 6 season EPL stint ends with loss to Newcastle
BURNLEY, England — Burnley was relegated from the Premier League after six seasons Sunday with a 2-1 loss at home Newcastle that allowed rival Leeds to survive.
Burnley needed only to match Leeds' result against Brentford and for much of the second half, a draw would have been enough. Groans sounded around Burnley's Turf Moor home when news came through in added time that Leeds had scored its second goal in what finished a 2-1 win over Brentford.
Soon after, the final whistle sounded at Burnley, met with scattered applause as the relegated squad made its way off the field.
It brought an end to Burnley's hopes of surviving under interim manager Mike Jackson after he stepped in when longtime manager Sean Dyche was fired last month.
Callum Wilson scored both of Newcastle's goals in a winning end to a season best known for the controversial takeover by the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund in October. Wilson opened the scoring with a penalty in the 20th minute and scored again in the 60th before Maxwel Cornet responded for Burnley nine minutes later.
Leeds ensures EPL survival with final day win over Brentford
LONDON — Leeds survived in the Premier League after a tense 2-1 win over Brentford on Sunday ensured Burnley was relegated instead.
U.S. manager Jesse Marsch and his team had a first-half Joe Gelhardt goal ruled out for a narrow offside on video review but finally took the lead when Raphinha scored from the penalty spot in the 56th.
That followed a blunder from Brentford goalkeeper David Raya, who carelessly played the ball out to Raphinha and then brought him down with a desperate tackle.
Sergi Canos headed Brentford level in the 78th only to dent his team's chances with a sending-off for two yellow cards in quick succession soon after. Jack Harrison scored the winner for Leeds in added time.
Leeds could still have been relegated if Burnley had matched its result with a win at home to Newcastle, but Burnley lost the game 2-1.