Premier League: Manchester City on the brink of EPL victory, trash Tottenham 3 – 1

Raheem Sterling scores for Manchester City
Raheem Sterling scores for Manchester City
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City will secure the Premier League title if Manchester United lose to West Brom on Sunday.

IT was the perfect way to respond after their week from hell. Pep Guardiola may have been dumped out of the Champions League and humbled by Manchester United with the title in sight.

But this was a reminder of why they will finish top of the table. In the first half and hour at Wembley they blew Spurs away with goals from Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan.

And when Christian Eriksen pulled one back to maintain City’s tradition of never making it easy for themselves, Pep’s lads also replied to suggestions they could lose their bottle.

Raheem Sterling’s strike sealed victory and put the champagne on ice for a first Prem title of the Guardiola era.

The corks could be popped as early as tomorrow evening if United lose to West Brom, or in midweek when Jose Mourinho’s men travel to Bournemouth but will have an FA Cup semi-final in mind.

Christian Eriksen scored Tottenham's only goal
Christian Eriksen scored Tottenham’s only goal

Mourinho knows it is City’s title, even if the mathematics says it is not quite over.

But on Grand National day, this was confirmation that there would be no Devon Loch in the Premier League. They have stumbled a little but they will still end up winners.

Victory against a team like Spurs, unbeaten in the Prem since travelling up to the Etihad in December, will be a massive confidence boost for a squad hit by their worst week of the season.

Pep reminded everyone before the match that amazing collapses can happen. He reeled off Real Madrid 2004 campaign and the Cleveland Cavaliers fighting back in the NBA finals in 2016.

It has clearly been in Guardiola’s mind, yet he vowed not to change his style and insisted he would attack his way to the title.

The Spaniard may have blinked first in the Champions League quarter-final when he kept Sterling on the bench. But at Wembley he went for jugular as promised and it all looked plain sailing after a sizzling start.

Tottenham goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris, earned a yellow card
Tottenham goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris, earned a yellow card

It was like watching City from earlier in the season when they were in full flow. Kevin De Bruyne found his range of passing, David Silva was pulling strings, while Sterling and Leroy Sane gave their full-backs headaches.

They could have racked up a big score, just like last week against United. Sterling kept getting behind the Spurs defence and the first chance he created saw Sane thump the post with a volley.

So much for the European hangover.

They went ahead with route-one goal, although it was no hit-and-hope move for the visitors. Vincent Kompany took his time and curled a beautiful ball behind the Spurs defence, bending his pass around Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen.

It caught Hugo Lloris in no-man’s land and Jesus ran deep into the penalty area before finishing off. City doubled the lead a couple of minutes later with another move that ripped apart Spurs’ backline.

Gundogan was the creator this time with a ball that sent Sterling away. Lloris was not caught flat-footed this time but rushed out and caught Sterling a yard outside the area – but ref Jon Moss saw it as a penalty.

Guardiola was fuming with the referee during the week when Sane were denied a goal against Liverpool. This time he was thankful for a dodgy decision.

Gundogan confidently stroked the ball away and thoughts turned to how soon City will be celebrating the title. But they have not done it the easy way, as throwing away a two-goal lead to United proved last week.

City still peppered Lloris’ goal and forced the Frenchman into a save from Silva. Yet Spurs crept back into the match by applying pressure before the break.

Erik Lamela had a couple of efforts on goal and a penalty appeal waved away when Kompany challenged him. Then Eriksen set up mammoth second half by pulling a goal back.

The Great Dane raced onto Harry Kane’s ball, with the Spurs striker returning the favour after he claimed a goal against Stoke last week for touching his team-mate’s free-kick.

Eriksen’s shot was blocked by Aymeric Laporte but the ball ricocheted back off him and into the net. Spurs sensed history could repeat itself as they steamed into the second half with a series of attacks.

Pep was getting a real taste of squeaky bum time in the Premier League. And when the pressure was on, his team kept passing their way out of trouble, which was a credit to them.

With the game in the balance, City then pulled away when it mattered. Jesus raced through and scuffed his shot when he had a chance to wrap it up.

Sterling had the ball around Lloris and was denied by a heroic late challenge from Vertonghen – but the England forward rammed home from the corner.

Jesus’ shot was saved and it fell perfectly for Sterling to finish from close range, a lovely moment for the boy who grew up in Wembley. His goal at the famous stadium put an end to any thoughts of a collapse.

“We’re going to win the league,” chanted the City fans. And it is not a case of when.

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