Manchester City on brink of EPL title after win over Palace
Manchester City are on the brink of clinching the Premier League title after a 2-0 win against Crystal Palace, while Brighton virtually assured their survival with victory over Leeds on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola’s side moved 13 points clear at the top thanks to second-half goals from Sergio Aguero and Ferran Torres at Selhurst Park.
City will be crowned English champions for the third time in four seasons if second-placed Manchester United lose at home to Liverpool on Sunday.
If United avoid defeat, City can seal the title with a victory against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium next Saturday.
It is a matter of when, not if, City regain the title they surrendered to Liverpool last season.
They shook off a tepid first half in south London and put Palace to the sword with two goals in the space of 84 seconds.
Aguero, making only his sixth league start in an injury-plagued season, broke the deadlock in the 57th minute when he ran onto Benjamin Mendy’s long pass and slammed a half-volley into the roof of the net from 10 yards.
It was only Aguero’s fourth goal of what will be his final season with City after the club’s record scorer announced he will leave in the close-season.
City hope Torres will be part of a new generation of stars capable of building on the foundations laid by the likes of Aguero.
The Spanish forward gave a glimpse of his potential when he fired home from the edge of the area after a flowing City attack in the 59th minute.
That was enough to seal an 11th successive away victory in the Premier League, equalling the English top-flight record. City were languishing in 14th place in late November but a blistering run since then has carried them to the brink of a third title in four seasons.
Aguero, City’s record goalscorer, will depart at the end of the season, following a difficult year where he has struggled with injuries.
Guardiola was quick to pay tribute to the Argentine striker after his 258th City goal.
“He is an absolutely top, legend, extraordinary player behaving as the most humble and nicest human being and it is not easy to find that,” Guardiola said.
“That’s why I love him as a man, another player in his situation and what he has done could create conflict and a difficult situation.
“When one guy is beloved like he is for all our fans, it is not just for scoring a thousand million goals. It is because he is something that the people realise, that you cannot hide away as a person. This season we took a decision, a difficult one, one of the toughest ones I took especially because he was injured for a long time and this club next season needs to make another step to maintain this level for a longer time.”
The treble chasers could also add the Champions League to that haul.
On Tuesday, City will attempt to reach their first ever Champions League final when they defend a 2-1 lead in the semi-final second leg against Paris Saint-Germain.
Guardiola’s team hold a 2-1 lead from the first leg in Paris and having Aguero firing on all cylinders would be a welcome boost for the crucial second leg.
“What he has done in this club will remain forever and we want to finish the best way possible,” Guardiola said.
“And he is going to help us in the Champions League and going to help us in the Premier League to finish it. “We can start to think about it and put it in the fridge. The Premier League is already there, it is in our hands. We need one more victory,” Guardiola said.
“I’m absolutely delighted with that after the Champions League. We could not play with much rhythm. We struggled a little bit but in the second half we deserved it.
“I will check on the Liverpool game. It’s in our hands and now we will give everything to beat PSG.”
At the Amex Stadium, Brighton broke a three-game goal drought when they took the lead through Pascal Gross’s 14th minute penalty.
Ezgjan Alioski was penalised for bringing down Danny Welbeck and Gross found the bottom corner with the resulting spot-kick.
Graham Potter’s side struck again through Danny Welbeck’s excellent solo effort in the 79th minute to seal a 2-0 win.
Brighton are now 10 points clear of the relegation zone with four games left.