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Manchester City let Liverpool dream for 83 seconds before slamming the door shut on any possibility that the last day of the Premier League season would provide one final dramatic twist in the tale.
This was the time it took for Sergio Aguero to put Manchester City level after Glenn Murray had stunned the visiting fans basking in glorious Sussex sunshine in Brighton’s Amex Stadium. And, for the moment to arrive when the compelling battle for the title finally swung decisively in City’s favour.
Manchester City had been sleepwalking into trouble. It had arrived. Liverpool’s lead over Wolves at Anfield already had them on top of the time-honoured ‘as it stands’ table and now City had an added obstacle to overcome.
The team Pep Guardiola has built is too strong mentally, and when measured in talent, and had come too far to be denied so close to the finishing line – and so it proved. Murray’s moment actually turned out to be the shock to the system they required – the push towards glory they needed.
And yet, for those few seconds, Manchester City supporters were silent. Manchester City’s players stood still, shocked. They feared the worst. They, rather like those who had travelled to watch them, were lethargic, lacking in urgency and suddenly left facing the nightmare.
It was a tightrope walk for less than two minutes but City kept their balance and eventually strolled imperiously to a 4-1 victory and the three points that continues their domestic supremacy.
At the same time, they ensured that football fans worldwide would retain their sanity in the face of a first Premier League crown for Liverpool.
English football’s highest tier is indeed a global fascination now. No other league has the pull, the financial power, or perhaps even the quality now considering four of its teams hold the four European cup final spots … and the champions aren’t even one of them!
In one special City Live! event at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, fans cheered on their heroes who some consider make up their home team considering City were floundering in obscurity until the emirate’s oil money flowed in.
Hamid Al Sheraifi is a six-year-old Manchester City fan and went to the event with his father Mohammad. Mohammad said: “Hamid just joined the City Football School this year and is loving every minute of it. It’s great to get all the fans together for an event like this and it’s been an amazing season from start to finish.”
Waseem Siddique, 28, and Jasim Moidutty, 30, have been following Manchester City for the last 10 years and often watch the games together each week. “Winning the title with hundreds of other City fans is the perfect end to a perfect season filled with goals and incredible football.”
Jasim added: “Winning trophies has been an important part of what we do in recent years but this season has been extra special and now we cannot wait for the FA Cup Final.”
Indeed, the opportunity to become the first English team to win the domestic treble looms large. And, on this form, who’s going to stop them?