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Monday, 17 June 2019

Guardiola says winning is 'addictive' as City hold off Liverpool

AFP , Sunday 12 May 2019
Guardiola
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola holds aloft the Premier League trophy AFP
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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said winning is "addictive" after his side held off a titanic challenge from Liverpool to clinch a second straight Premier League title.

City became the first side in a decade to retain the Premier League title by coming from behind to beat Brighton 4-1 on Sunday and pip Liverpool by a solitary point.

City remain on course to complete the first ever domestic treble in English football in the FA Cup final against Watford next weekend, after goals from Sergio Aguero, Aymeric Laporte, Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan saw the visitors recover from Glenn Murray's shock opener.

"Winning is so addictive and in a few days we have the FA Cup," said Guardiola.

A 14th straight league victory for Guardiola's men ensured Liverpool's long wait to win a first league title since 1990 continued despite a 2-0 victory over Wolves at Anfield that saw them post the third-highest points tally in Premier League history with 97.

Guardiola described retaining the Premier League as the hardest of his eight top-flight titles as a coach.

"We won in Spain and in Germany, but that is the toughest one," said Guardiola, who won three league titles at each of Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

"This league, the best managers are here, incredible players, especially this rival we faced this season. (It) gives more credit to what we have done."

For 83 seconds after Brighton scored Liverpool fans were able to dream, but City showed why they are champions and have racked up a remarkable 98 points, just two shy of their record century of points last season.

Liverpool applied as much pressure as they could with their own nine-game winning run to end the season and went in front early against Wolves to raise the tension inside the Amex Stadium.

"We have to say thank you to Liverpool because they helped us to be even better than last season," continued Guardiola.

"We push each other so close. They did an incredible season, but we did a little bit better so that's why we are champions."

City had not conceded in their previous four games, but Brighton were playing on their nerves as they sought revenge for defeat in their FA Cup semi-final last month.

On 27 minutes Pascal Gross's dangerous in-swinging corner was powered home by veteran striker Murray at the near post for a goal that was celebrated as wildly 270 miles north at Anfield as it was on the south coast.

This was the first time City had failed to score first in a league game since early December and the first time they had trailed at all in the 14-game winning run that has carried them to the title.

However, Brighton's lead and Liverpool's hope lasted just over a minute.

Aguero leads City recovery

Aguero scored the sensational last-gasp goal that ended City's own 44-year wait for the title in 2011/12 and his goals have been a constant of their now four Premier League triumphs in eight seasons.

David Silva's wonderful flick freed the Argentine in behind the Brighton defence and Aguero made no mistake with a powerful low finish.

The brief shock of going behind sparked City into life and they led seven minutes before half-time when Laporte headed home from Mahrez's corner.

Just after the hour mark, Mahrez gave the visitors the breathing space they desired in a moment of magic and redemption.

The Algerian has failed to make a big impact in his first season since joining for a club record £60 million from Leicester.

Until now his most noteworthy moment was a late missed penalty in a 0-0 draw at Anfield in October that could easily have cost City the title.

Instead, he scored the goal to ensure Liverpool were denied at the end of a remarkable title tussle by firing into the top corner on his weaker right foot.

Nine minutes later, Gundogan added the icing on the champions' cake with a glorious free-kick from 25 yards as City sealed the title in style.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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