A remarkable 5 minutes at the Etihad Stadium saw Manchester City crowned Premier League champions for the 2021/22 season.
When Pep Guardiola sent İlkay Gündoğan after 68 minutes (a substitution that ensured Jack Grealish didn’t get a chance against his former club), he surely could never have envisioned the impact the German midfielder would have.
It also raised a few eyebrows, with the aforementioned Grealish overlooked with City badly needing - at the time - two goals.
Just a minute after Gündoğan’s introduction, Man City needed three goals to be assured of the title. Aston Villa’s newly permanently signed playmaker, Philippe Coutinho made it 2-0, sending the Etihad into stunned silence.
At that point, City were still on course to win the title, but only by goal difference. Liverpool were being held 1-1, and that was enough to see Pep’s team crowned champions.
It was never going to be enough though. No one expected Wolves would hold out, and so it proved, with Liverpool going on to win 3-1.
What happened at the Etihad next was out of this world though. When Gündoğan pulled one back with a header after 76 minutes, he gave City a glimmer of hope.
When Rodri fired in the equaliser two minutes later, the dream was again alive. We were set for a grandstand last 12 plus minutes to see if City could get the winner. But we only had to wait another 3 minutes, as Gündoğan was on hand at the far post to tap home Kevin De Bruyne’s cross after 81 minutes.
The comeback was complete.
A more dramatic comeback than in 2012?
Questions will be asked if this was more dramatic than Sergio Aguero’s winner against QPR after 93 minutes and 20 seconds, back in 2012? Quite frankly, I don’t know the answer. They were both remarkable comebacks, but in different ways.
How much Stoppage Time!
I have to admit that I did find stoppage time slightly strange. Four minutes were added. But nearly two of the four were taken up by Ederson receiving treatment. So for the final whistle to go after roughly four minutes and thirty seconds of stoppage time, didn’t seem right to me.
Pep Guardiola won’t mind though. For nearly 80 minutes of the match against Aston Villa, he was under immense pressure as City came incredibly close to winning nothing in a season that promised so much.
With Liverpool a huge 15 points behind at one stage in January, the Premier League title race was regarded as over. There would have been plenty of questions asked, had City blown this. Especially after the recent Champions League capitulation in Madrid.
The relief of all that was clear to see on Pep’s face at the end of the match.