In the end, there was to be no denying Manchester City. No excruciating tension to endure as Brighton & Hove Albion heaved to repel the barrage whipped up by the visitors on the south coast, and no nail-biting finale as news filtered through of Liverpool goals on distant Merseyside.
What tension that existed here would be lanced a little after the hour-mark. Everything thereafter was a celebration of the champions’ enduring excellence.
They have been challenged this year, stretched wonderfully by Liverpool’s startling progress under Jürgen Klopp, but City, with 198 points gleaned across two seasons, have ultimately proved irresistible.
Pep Guardiola had appeared agitated at times, the perfectionist in him piqued while his team’s lead was still slender.
But, as Riyad Mahrez skipped back inside to leave Lewis Dunk crumpled on the turf before ripping a glorious right-footed finish into the top corner beyond Maty Ryan, the outpouring was actually one of joy rather than relief. For the first time in a decade, the Premier League had been retained.
Those on the visitors’ bench spilled out on to the turf, the goalscorer lost in the mess of bodies as substitutes and teammates celebrated.
They knew there would be no coming back for either Albion or Liverpool from this. Ilkay Gündogan’s sumptuous free-kick would add further gloss to this latest victory, a 32nd from 38 fixtures this season, with City’s 95th league goal of the campaign.
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