Manchester City came from behind to retain the Premier League title in style with a 4-1 victory at Brighton on the final day of the season.
City looked on course for a nerve-jangling final outing at the Amex Stadium when Sadio Mane’s opener for Liverpool against Wolves – which temporarily moved the Reds top of the table – was compounded by Glenn Murray heading Brighton into the lead on 27 minutes.
But City produced the response of champions. Sergio Aguero struck just 83 seconds after Murray’s opener, before Aymeric Laporte’s header secured a half-time lead.
Riyad Mahrez rifled City’s third into the top corner on 63 minutes before an exquisite Ilkay Gundogan free-kick sparked wild scenes of celebrations among Pep Guardiola’s players and staff.
City’s 14th consecutive league victory sees them end one of the most remarkable Premier League title races on top of the pile with 98 points, and sees them become the first side since 2009 to retain the title.
Brighton relished the prospect of going against the script to potentially crash City’s coronation. Alireza Jahanbakhsh flashed a fierce drive inches wide of goal on nine minutes, an effort which forced Guardiola to squat in his technical area as the pressure mounted.
News of Mane’s opener on 17 minutes at Anfield trickled through, and the plot thickened 10 minutes later as Murray beat Ederson at the near post to head Brighton in front with his 14th goal of the season.
But the lead was short-lived. David Silva’s neat flick was brought under control by Aguero, and he immediately eased the champions’ nerves with a clinical finish past Mat Ryan.
The Brighton goalkeeper prevented Bernardo Silva from heading a now-rampant City into the lead on the half-hour mark, but he was helpless seven minutes before the interval as Laporte was given the freedom of the penalty area and completed the turnaround with a header from Mahrez’s corner.
City laid siege to the Brighton goal early in the second half and got the two-goal cushion they desired as Mahrez shifted the ball away from Lewis Dunk and fired through the despairing dive of Ryan.
And City’s celebrations were put into motion on 72 minutes when Gundogan left Ryan with no chance as he curled a sumptuous 25-yard free-kick over the Brighton wall and into the top corner.