Man City moves to brink of clinching title

The Associated Press

Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus, center, scores against Tottenham during Saturday’s English Premier League match at Wembley Stadium in London.

ReutersManchester City emerged from a trough of despair to beat Tottenham 3-1 at Wembley on Saturday and move to within three points of the Premier League title.

After being beaten by archrival Manchester United a week earlier from two goals up when victory would have clinched the championship, then being knocked out of Europe by Liverpool, some suggested that City were beginning to flag.

But Pep Guardiola’s side made a mockery of such talk to outclass a Spurs side unbeaten in the league since December.

Victory, sealed with goals by Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling, lifted the club to 87 points from 33 games.

An unlikely defeat by Manchester United at home to bottom club West Bromwich on Sunday would secure City’s third title in seven seasons, but a win against Swansea next week will be enough to put them out of reach.

“These guys are fantastic and awesome,” said Guardiola, who will be on the golf course with his son when United plays on Sunday.

“What’s happened in the last week is so unfair. The important thing is that we know we depend on ourselves. We have to win it at home. I am excited to be champions with our fans.”

Third-placed Liverpool beat Bournemouth 3-0 at home with Mohamed Salah taking his goal tally for the season to 40 in all competitions — making him only the third Liverpool player to achieve that mark in a single campaign.

Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were also on target as Liverpool moved three points above Tottenham.

Liverpool is 10 points above fifth-placed Chelsea, which hit back from two goals down at relegation-haunted Southampton to win 3-2 and keep alive its hopes of a top-four finish.

Manchester City’s fans celebrated long and loud after the final whistle at Wembley after a dazzling display by their team.

City dominated the first half and went ahead in the 22nd minute when Vincent Kompany’s long pass released Jesus to score in clinical fashion.

Three minutes later, Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris sent Sterling flying, although replays suggested the contact was just outside the area. The referee pointed to the spot, however, and Gundogan rolled home the kick.

Tottenham, whose 14-match unbeaten league run was its best spell since 1967, responded through Christian Eriksen before halftime, but Sterling wrapped up the points in the 77th minute.

“We missed the first 25 minutes,” said Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, whose side faces Manchester United in the F.A. Cup semifinals next week.

“We have to congratulate Manchester City because they are very close to winning the title.”


Barca bounces back

BARCELONA (Reuters) — Barcelona responded to its shock Champions League elimination by AS Roma by beating Valencia 2-1 on Saturday in a subdued atmosphere at the Nou Camp, setting a La Liga record run of 39 games unbeaten and taking the side ever closer to another title.

Luis Suarez gave Barca the lead after a quarter-hour by meeting a delicious outside-of-the-foot pass from former Liverpool teammate Philippe Coutinho, scoring with one touch from close range.

Club-record signing Coutinho then delivered an outswinging corner from which Samuel Umtiti headed in Barca’s second in the 51st minute, shortly after Gerard Pique had saved Umtiti’s blushes by clearing a shot from Valencia forward Santi Mina off the line following a slip by the France defender.

Captain Dani Parejo pulled a goal back for third-placed Valencia by squeezing an 87th-minute penalty under Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, but the Catalans withstood an exciting final spell to move to within seven points of their 25th league title.

Ernesto Valverde’s side leads nearest challenger Atletico Madrid by 14 points in the standings, with Atletico hosting Levante and fourth-placed Real visiting basement club Malaga on Sunday.

The Barca coach praised his players for putting the Roma defeat behind them.

“This wasn’t a week to think about records, we don’t give it too much importance. It was more important that we picked ourselves up after a difficult week,” Valverde said.


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