LONDON, United Kingdom, Apr 14 – Manchester City are on the brink of winning the Premier League title after ending their troubled spell with a stylish 3-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola’s side extended their lead over second-placed Manchester United to 16 points thanks to goals from Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling at Wembley.
Christian Eriksen had reduced the deficit to 2-1 in the first half, but City will be crowned champions if United lose to bottom of the table West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
If United draw the race would also effectively be over as City would be 15 points clear with a maximum of 15 available to Jose Mourinho’s team, who have a vastly inferior goal difference.
A United victory would keep City’s champagne on ice for a few more days at least.
Fourth-placed Tottenham were powerless to halt City’s revival and a first defeat in 14 league matches shouldn’t ruin their bid to qualify for the Champions League.
After sweeping through most of the season in regal fashion, City had crashed down to earth with a bump over the last 10 days.
Their limp Champions League quarter-final exit against Liverpool came either side of their failure to clinch the title last weekend, when United came from two goals down to beat them.
City’s hellish week had Guardiola warning his players that “anything can happen” as he recalled other great sporting collapses from seemingly invincible positions.
But it quickly became clear that run of three successive defeats wasn’t weighing on City.
Leroy Sane met Sterling’s cross with a searing volley that cannoned off a post with Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris rooted to the spot.
Unusually sluggish, Tottenham weren’t testing City and, with a swagger back in their stride, Guardiola’s men took the lead in the 22nd minute.
Most of their goals this season have come with a flourish, but for once City took a more direct approach.
– City back on track –
Vincent Kompany’s long pass caught Tottenham defender Davinson Sanchez flat-footed and Jesus made him pay as he raced clear to fire past Lloris.
City’s problems were suddenly a thing of the past and they went further ahead three minutes later.
When Sterling weaved his way towards the Tottenham area, Lloris raced off his line to make a crude lunge that sent the City winger flying.
While it was a clear foul, the contact appeared to be made just outside the area, yet, to Tottenham’s fury, Jonathan Moss awarded a penalty that Gundogan slotted home with ease.
In the week Premier League clubs voted not to introduce the Video Assistant Referee system next season, this was a moment when the controversial replay technology would have been useful.
Tottenham defender Ben Davies somehow escaped a red card for a horrible studs-up foul on Kompany, but the leaders still had a soft centre to their defence.
Harry Kane was lampooned in some quarters for making what was perceived as a slightly greedy, if successful, appeal to have Tottenham’s second goal at Stoke last weekend credited to him instead of Eriksen.
Kane at least returned the favour as Eriksen scored in the 42nd minute.
Running onto Kane’s defence-splitting pass, Eriksen’s shot hit City’s Aymeric Laporte and deflected back onto the Tottenham midfielder on its way past Ederson.
City regained control after half-time and should have been out of sight as Jesus scuffed badly wide and Sterling fared no better with a woeful close-range miss.
But they moved within touching distance of the title in the 72nd minute.
Lloris palmed Jesus’s shot to Sterling and the winger drilled into the roof of the net to leave City fans singing “we’re going to win the league”.