Manchester City staged a sensational comeback from 2-0 down to retain the Premier League title with a dramatic 3-2 win over Aston Villa.
Needing to win to be assured of holding off Liverpool, City were in danger of blowing it as Matty Cash and former Reds star Philippe Coutinho struck at the Etihad Stadium.
Yet Pep Guardiola’s side showed all their champion quality to rally with Ilkay Gundogan coming off the bench to score twice either side of a superb Rodri strike in a remarkable five-minute spell.
City knew that second-placed Liverpool, trailing by just a point, could overtake them with victory over Wolves and there were times in the afternoon when they lived on their nerves.
There were few signs of the tension to follow as the game kicked off amid a joyous and raucous atmosphere.
City supporters had given their team a rousing welcome outside the stadium and there was a feeling celebrations were almost getting under way as news filtered through of an early Wolves goal.
City made most of the early running but Villa, who were warned about time-wasting early on by referee Michael Oliver, grew into the game and took a shock lead eight minutes before the interval.
Lucas Digne, the former Everton full-back, broke clear down the left and clipped in a fine cross from the byline. Cash, running in from the opposite side, met it with a firm header that Ederson could not keep out.
With Liverpool having now equalised against Wolves, the mood was transformed. City were stunned and suddenly looked vulnerable.
Fernandinho looked particularly shaky as Ollie Watkins twice threatened, first having a shot blocked and then being denied by a back-tracking John Stones.
The interval came at a good time for City and it was no surprise that Fernandinho did not return for the second half. Oleksandr Zinchenko took his place and the back line was reshaped.
City upped the tempo and Gabriel Jesus should have equalised when picked out at the back post by Joao Cancelo but volleyed over.
Kevin De Bruyne went close with a dipping free-kick but City were caught out by a long clearance upfield by Robin Olsen, which Watkins headed on to Coutinho.
The Brazilian’s first touch was exquisite and completely wrong-footed Aymeric Laporte, exposing Ederson at the near post. Coutinho kept his cool and found the bottom corner.
Villa manager Steven Gerrard was more than doing his job for former club Liverpool and this was now a serious test of City’s mettle, but they rallied.
Substitutes Raheem Sterling and Gundogan combined to pull one back on 76 minutes. The German had a free header at the back post after being picked out by Sterling and made no mistake.
City pressed again and moments later levelled as Zinchenko picked out Rodri on the edge of the area and the Spaniard stroked the ball into the bottom corner.
Again Gundogan was in the right place at the back post as De Bruyne whipped in a good ball.
The comeback was complete and, even though an equaliser from Villa could have changed the picture again, it never looked like happening as City celebrated another league crown.
Germany Slump To Japan In Another World Cup Shocker
Spain Ignite World Cup Bid By Smashing Seven Past Costa Rica
Spain shredded Costa Rica 7-0 on Wednesday in a brutal destruction in their Group E opener which launched their bid to lift a second World Cup.
Avoiding the fate of giants Argentina and group rivals Germany, who lost 2-1 to Japan earlier on, Luis Enrique’s fancied side sparkled at Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium, dominating possession and taking their chances mercilessly.
Ferran Torres netted twice and Marco Asensio, Dani Olmo, Gavi, Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata were also on the scoresheet for the Euro 2020 semi-finalists in an emphatic romp.
In the past the 2010 World Cup winners have paid the price for profligacy but all three forwards Luis Enrique selected netted in the first half to pay back his trust in them.
The coach placed Asensio at false nine, flanked by Olmo and Torres, starting with Morata and Ansu Fati on the bench.
The coach opted to deploy Manchester City midfielder Rodri Hernandez in central defence, alongside club team-mate Aymeric Laporte, correctly anticipating his team would monopolise the ball.
It took only 11 minutes for La Roja to open the scoring, with Gavi stabbing a pass forward for Olmo to receive in the area and the RB Leipzig winger taking one sublime touch to turn and another to stroke the ball gently past Keylor Navas.
Costa Rica, who were a surprise package at the 2014 World Cup, beating Italy and Uruguay and drawing with England to top their group, were sliced apart again for the second goal 10 minutes later.
Jordi Alba’s low drilled cross was rammed home by Real Madrid forward Asensio past his former team-mate Navas, who might have done more to keep it out.
Torres stroked home from the penalty spot after Alba was fouled by Oscar Duarte –- a soft call on a hard night for Los Ticos, who were never in the game and failed to muster a shot at goal.
Barcelona forward Torres capitalised on more slack defending to fire the fourth past Navas early in the second half.
Luis Enrique was able to take off the effervescent Pedri and Torres before the hour mark in order to rest them for Sunday’s clash with Germany, and handed teenage Barcelona left-back Alejandro Balde his debut.
The 19-year-old roared up the pitch in the build-up to Spain’s fifth goal, with substitute Morata crossing for Gavi to drill home with aplomb.
Kopa Trophy winner Gavi became the third youngest goalscorer at a World Cup at 18 years and 110 days old, after Mexico’s Manuel Rosas and record holder Pele.
Soler and Morata then got in on the act with stoppage-time strikes to pile further misery on Costa Rica and help Spain flex their muscles in a perfect opening match in Qatar.
Saudi Arabia Declare National Holiday After Shock Win Over Argentina
Saudi King Salman has declared a national holiday after the football team’s stunning World Cup win on Tuesday over Argentina, state media reported.
The 86-year-old monarch “orders that tomorrow, Wednesday, be a holiday for all employees in the public and private sectors, as well as male and female students at all educational levels”, the Al-Ekhbariya channel said on Twitter.
The move comes in the middle of final exams in the Gulf nation, indicating that they will have to be rescheduled.
The Saudi Green Falcons bounced back from conceding an early Lionel Messi penalty to produce one of the greatest World Cup shocks thanks to a Saleh Al-Shehri equaliser and a sublime Salem Al-Dawsari winner at the Lusail Stadium in Doha.
Celebrations erupted throughout the capital Riyadh after the final whistle blew, with fans forming impromptu dance circles and waving the sword-emblazoned national flag from the windows of speeding cars.
Al-Ekhbariya posted pictures of King Salman’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, celebrating after watching the game with a group that included energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.
Turki al-Sheikh, an adviser at the Royal Court and head of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, announced on Twitter that admission fees would be waived at major theme parks and entertainment centres in Riyadh on Tuesday.
Few could have predicted that Herve Renard’s Green Falcons, ranked 51st in the world, would topple the twice-world champions led by the feted Messi, who has seven Ballons d’Or to his name.
The team’s next match is on Saturday against Poland.
Yobe North: Appeal Court Affirms Bashir Machina As APC Candidate
ShareThe Court of Appeal in Abuja has affirmed Bashir Sheriff Machina as the authentic All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for...
I’ll be back as governor soon – Oyetola
ShareThe immediate Past Governor of Osun State Gboyega Oyetola has vowed that he shall be back as governor of the...
Pastor Kumuyi inaugurates global academy to mentor youths
ShareThe General Superintendent of the Deeper Life Bible Church, Pastor William Kumuyi, has inaugurated a global youth empowerment partnership programme...
Osun: Adeleke makes first appointments
ShareOsun State Governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke, has made his first appointments after his inauguration as governor on Sunday. Adeleke appointed...
Nigeria to begin processing of raw gold, others — Minister
ShareNigeria has begun the process of refining gold, gemstones and other mineral resources in the six geo-political regions of Nigeria....