Manchester City came from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 on the final day of the Premier League season to retain the title, holding off Liverpool – who beat Wolves 3-1 – by a single point.
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 had known 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.
When they trailed by two, Liverpool were being held 1-1 and news of another goal at Anfield at that stage, could have been a hammer blow.
Yet in remarkable final-day drama, City cast off the shackles of a dismal first-half display to turn the game around and render Liverpool’s eventual win academic.
Liverpool fight back to win in vain
Liverpool’s hopes of a dramatic last-day Premier League title win were dashed by City’s remarkable second-half comeback, with the 3-1 home win over Wolves not enough to maintain their quest for an unprecedented quadruple.
For a long period, with their rivals losing at home to Aston Villa, belief coursed around the ground but the dream was extinguished in the space of six minutes in which Pep Guardiola’s men turned things around.
It meant the Reds finished second by a point, with a 92-point tally which would have been good enough to win the title in 25 of the previous 30 seasons.
The last time a team failed to win the top-flight title after leading the table on the final day was Liverpool themselves in 1989 when they lost 2-0 at home to Arsenal.
But this time their destiny was out of their hands as it needed Villa, managed by former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, to pull off the unexpected and get something at the Etihad Stadium.
For 75 minutes it looked like they might just do that and with Sadio Mane’s 11th league goal at Anfield cancelling out Pedro Neto’s surprise opener there was a feeling that something special was happening.
But by the time Mohamed Salah had put his side 2-1 up with his 23rd league goal – to share the Golden Boot with Tottenham’s Son Heung-min, City were ahead.
That required something special from Villa late on but the next goal came at Anfield where Andy Robertson stabbed home in the 89th minute.
The match began and ended in a feeling of deflation but the consolation for Liverpool and their fans is they have a Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday to complete a cup treble.