EPL

'You need to be excellent all the time' – De Bruyne proud as Man City hold off Liverpool for title triumph

By Sports Desk May 22, 2022

Kevin De Bruyne expressed his pride after Manchester City sealed a dramatic Premier League title win on the final day of the season, highlighting how his side had to be consistently "excellent" in the face of Liverpool's challenge.

City went into their home contest with Aston Villa knowing a win would confirm their fourth top-flight title in five seasons, though things looked desperate for Pep Guardiola's men when Matty Cash and Philippe Coutinho gave Steven Gerrard's men a 2-0 lead.

But an Ilkay Gundogan brace, scored either side of Rodri's leveller, sparked jubilant scenes as City retained their crown despite Liverpool's 3-1 victory over Wolves, with De Bruyne providing the assist for the all-important winner.

The win marked the first time City had come from two goals down to win a Premier League game since beating Norwich City 3-2 in February 2005, while Liverpool finished second with a massive 92 points – the second-highest tally amassed by a team to not win the title after their own 97 in 2018-19.

Jurgen Klopp's side pushed City all the way after going unbeaten through their last 19 games of the season, winning 16, and De Bruyne said overcoming Liverpool's relentless challenge was a great source of pride.

"It's hard because Liverpool push you that far, and you need to be excellent all the time," he told Sky Sports. "There's never a moment where you can play a little bit less, losing some points means it's the end.

"We feel so proud because they've pushed us that far for years and years, but we've still managed to find a way."

De Bruyne was named the Premier League's Player of the Season after top-scoring for Guardiola's men with 15 league goals, also adding eight assists and either scoring or laying on a goal in 14 of City's last 20 league outings.

The Belgium international also joked his cross for Gundogan's winner was his best of the campaign, as he hailed the Germany midfielder - and fellow substitute Oleksandr Zinchenko - for changing the game.

Asked where his assist ranked, De Bruyne replied: "The best, the best, honestly!

"It's not the best cross but Ilkay is there, I just wanted to put it in a place where we could score. Ilkay and Zinchenko changed the game for me.

"He [Gundogan] has got a real good timing when going in front of goal, and he won us the game."

Meanwhile, just 12 minutes and 22 seconds separated Villa going 2-0 up and Gundogan completing the turnaround, and De Bruyne admitted City were beginning to panic before scoring their first.

"Maybe [we panicked] a couple of times! But I think it's normal in this situation, it's so different, you can't really explain it," he added. "We tried to stay as calm as possible, but sometimes there was a little bit.

"2-1 just changed the whole situation, you see the whole stadium changes, the atmosphere, and we just didn't look back. 

"You just go for it, you're losing anyway, and you just want to change the situation, and that's what we did. 

"It changed quickly with the first and the second goal, I think we created more chances before that, but it is what it is.

"I knew it was 1-1 at half-time [in Liverpool's clash with Wolves] but after I'm not too sure – I think it was 1-1 for a long time.

"Even then, I think we looked at ourselves and if you see how we tried to change the situation, we tried to force it ourselves and didn't want to look at Liverpool. Luckily, we managed it."

Related items

  • Ronald Koeman: Barcelona cannot 'live in the past' Ronald Koeman: Barcelona cannot 'live in the past'

    While criticising Joan Laporta's management, Ronald Koeman has claimed Barcelona are caught up in their own history as football evolves beyond their identity on the pitch.

    The former Barcelona head coach claims Laporta placed unnecessary pressure on him before his dismissal in October last year.

    Xavi taking over from the 59-year-old formed part of a narrative that the financially embattled club would return to their roots both on and off the pitch, as part of Laporta's second stint as club president.

    In an interview with Esport3, Koeman suggested such a sentiment is ultimately impractical and ignorant of football's evolution, while defending his own tactical choices in charge of the Blaugrana.

    "I am in favour of dominating the game," he said. "If you play with three central defenders, you cannot say that it is a defensive system. With this system for three or four months, we played the best games in recent years.

    "The clearest example was the [2021 Copa del Rey] final against Athletic. Barcelona lives in the past, from 4-3-3, to Tiki-taka. Football has changed. Now it's faster, more physical.

    "You can't live in the past. If you have Xavi, Iniesta... and Messi, who by the way, they took from me. This was a very hard one to take."

    Koeman also hinted to the weight lifted off his shoulders after his dismissal, especially within the context of leaving the Netherlands national team to take Barcelona over during a period of significant financial and political upheaval at the club.

    Laporta was elected as Barcelona president three months after Koeman's replacement of Quique Setien in 2020.

    Set to take over the Netherlands from Louis van Gaal after this year's World Cup, Koeman insists life has become less complicated since leaving, but harbours no regrets about his return to the club he won a Champions League with as a player.

    "Leaving was a bit of a liberation," he said. "It was a difficult time for the club, without a president, with Laporta's doubts about the coach.

    "You want to be a coach and you know that if you don't win you have problems. I made an effort, I left the national team and if it happened again, I would do it again. I don't regret it.

    "As president, you can always have doubts but if you say them to the public, everyone doubts. It was a big mistake on his part."

  • Sedin brothers, Luongo and Alfredsson headline Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2022 Sedin brothers, Luongo and Alfredsson headline Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2022

    Twin brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin, along with former Vancouver Canucks team-mate Roberto Luongo and long-time Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, headline the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2022. 

    Finish women's hockey great Riikka Sallinen and Herb Carnegie, a black hockey pioneer, were also selected Monday to be inducted in November. 

    Daniel and Henrik played all 17 of their NHL seasons together for the Canucks after being selected second and third overall in the 1999 NHL draft. 

    Henrick finished his career with 1,070 points and won the 2009-10 league scoring title and the Hart Trophy as league MVP that season, while Daniel ended with 1,041 points and won the NHL scoring title in 2010-11 with 104 points. 

    Henrik routinely set up his brother, finishing his career with 830 assists (27th all time) while Daniel was the beneficiary of Henrik's passes, tallying 393 goals. 

    The brothers each won an Olympic gold medal for Sweden at the 2006 Games and helped lead the Canucks to 11 playoffs trips and a berth in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. 

    While the Sedins fuelled the offense for those Canucks teams, Luongo protected the net, serving as Vancouver's goaltender from 2006-07 until he was traded to the Florida Panthers on in March 2014.

    Over a 19-season career from 1999-2000 to 2018-19, Luongo ranks second among all goalies with 1,044 games played while his 489 wins are fourth most. 

    A three-time finalist for the Vezina Trophy, Luongo ranks ninth all time with 77 career shutouts and was also the goalie on the Canada team that won the 2010 Olympic gold medal. 

    Alfredsson, who also won an Olympic gold as a team-mate of the Sedins on the 2006 Sweden team, spent 17 of his 18 NHL seasons with the Senators. 

    The winner of the 1995-96 Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie, Alfredsson finished his career with 444 goals (tied for 64th all time) and 1,157 points (55th most in NHL history). 

    Sallinen, the first woman not born in North America to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, won bronze medals for Finland at the 1998 and 2018 Olympics, while Carnegie, who died in 2012 at the age of 92, is widely considered the best black hockey player to never play in the NHL. 

  • Fernandinho returns to Athletico Paranaense after Man City departure Fernandinho returns to Athletico Paranaense after Man City departure

    Fernandinho has rejoined former club Athletico Paranaense after announcing his departure from Manchester City.

    The 37-year-old stated his intention to return to Brazil in April before completing his ninth campaign at the Etihad Stadium, and leaves at the end of his contract having made a total of 383 appearances for City.

    Fernandinho took over as City captain after David Silva's 2020 departure and featured in five Premier League title wins, the last four of them under Pep Guardiola's management.

    But the holding midfielder, who has won 53 caps for Brazil, was reduced to a supporting role during the 2021-22 season, starting just 17 games in all competitions as Rodri enjoyed a terrific campaign at the base of Guardiola's midfield.

    On Monday, Athletico Paranaense tweeted an image of Fernandinho with club president Mario Celso Petraglia, alongside the caption: "Welcome back, Fernandinho!"

    Fernandinho spent three seasons with the Curitiba-based club before joining Shakhtar Donetsk in 2005, where he won six Ukrainian top-flight titles.

    Athletico Paranaense are coached by former World Cup-winning Brazil boss Luis Felipe Scolari, who joined the side in May.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.