MANCHESTER, England – Manchester City won the Premier League title without even playing on Sunday when nearest challenger Manchester United surprisingly lost 1-0 at home to last-place West Bromwich Albion.
It was City’s third title in seven seasons and easily its most convincing, with Pep Guardiola’s team 16 points clear and still having five games to play this season. City’s other two Premier League triumphs, in 2012 and ’14, were sealed on the final day.
Second-place United dragged the title race out for at least another week by winning 3-2 at City last weekend, only to gift the trophy to City by losing to a team that is destined for relegation and had just one league win since August.
Guardiola might not have seen Jay Rodriguez’s 73rd-minute winning goal at Old Trafford because he was due to be playing golf with his son instead of watching the match.
“Our Time. Our City. Premier League Champions 17/18,” City tweeted soon after the final whistle, when the fifth English top-flight title of its history was assured.
Instead of City likely clinching the title at home to Swansea next weekend, that game at Etihad Stadium will now be a party and a celebration of one of the Premier League’s finest teams which could yet break a slew of records by the end of the season.
An 18-match winning run from late-August to late-December laid the platform for the runaway title victory, and it was only a matter of when it would be clinched.
Few — including Guardiola — expected it to happen on Sunday.
“We’ve won you the league, Manchester City, we’ve won you the league,” sang West Brom’s fans near the end of the game.
The 2012 title win had the infamous last-gasp goal by Sergio Aguero. Six years later, the finale was much more underwhelming, with Rodriguez nodding in from a corner to silence the majority of Old Trafford and set up one of the most surprising wins of the season.
United manager Jose Mourinho had long given up hopes of winning the title, instead focusing on finishing second. This result left his team one point clear of third-place Liverpool, with a game in hand.
As for City, it has a month to finish a season with the most points, goals and wins in a single Premier League campaign.
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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80