Pep Guardiola acknowledged his Manchester City side is bound to show more focus in their quest for FA Cup and Champions League glory after seeing the defence of their Premier League title officially ended.

City's 2-1 loss to Chelsea on Thursday saw Liverpool crowned champions but they were in fine form during a 2-0 victory at Newcastle United in Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final.

Kevin De Bruyne celebrated his 29th birthday by scoring a first-half penalty before Raheem Sterling put the finishing touch on a routine win after the break to book a last-four showdown with Arsenal.

It remains possible for City to complete an EFL Cup, FA Cup and Champions League treble this term, with Guardiola saying it is understandable his players' attentions are now on a return to Wembley as well as the last-16 return leg against Real Madrid in Europe's premier competition – a tie in which they lead 2-1.

"After the defeat in London against Chelsea, of course now in the Premier League we're struggling a little bit to focus," said Guardiola.

"We're playing for qualification to the Champions League, it's not done but we're close, we need two victories.

"But, of course, now the FA Cup and Champions League it's a little bit different for the fact we're playing at Wembley again, we were winners last season, we are in the semis again and that's so, so good. Then we prepare for the end of the season against Madrid."

On the game, Guardiola added: "First we are in the semi-final, it was not easy to attack against defenders so, so deep.

"It was a solid performance, we conceded few [chances]and we are happy to be going back to London to Wembley."

De Bruyne has become the designated penalty taker after City experienced a string of spot-kick woes this season.

The brilliant Belgium playmaker says it is a responsibility he is happy to shoulder.

"We had a few problems this year and I think the gaffer asked me to step up against Madrid," he said. 

"I've scored a couple now. If I'm the taker now I will try. Obviously there will be a day I miss, you have to take your responsibility, it if it's in it's good."

Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling were on target as holders Manchester City coasted into the FA Cup semi-finals with a 2-0 win at Newcastle United.

A 2-1 reverse at Chelsea on Thursday officially ended City's reign as Premier League champions and Pep Guardiola's men looked out to make a statement from the off at St James' Park.

De Bruyne, who turned 29 on Sunday, coolly slotted home a 37th-minute penalty in what was scant reward for a dominant first-half showing.

Sterling then added a fine second 22 minutes from time as City booked a last-four date with Arsenal at Wembley.

Riyad Mahrez blazed one over and bent another effort wide of the right post from 20 yards as City threatened early.

Karl Darlow twice denied Sterling in a match that was fast becoming an attack-versus-defence training drill.

It took a silly push from Fabian Schar on Gabriel Jesus to break Newcastle down, though, with De Bruyne rolling the resulting penalty into the bottom-left corner.

Aymeric Laporte headed narrowly wide just before half-time and Mahrez flashed another chance just over shortly following the restart.

Newcastle should have been level when Allan Saint-Maximin laid one on a plate for substitute Dwight Gayle, who astonishingly skied over from six yards with the goal gaping.

City immediately made them pay. Sterling drove at the Newcastle defence and cut inside before curling a cute finish into the bottom-right corner from 20 yards.

 

What does it mean? City's treble dream intact

The Premier League trophy may be about to reside in Liverpool's trophy cabinet for the first time but City are still in the hunt for an EFL Cup, FA Cup and Champions League treble. They seldom had to get out of first gear here.

Sterling and Mahrez torment Magpies defence

Steve Bruce's game-plan was clear – play deep, keep it compact and hit on the counter. The only problem is such a tactic allowed Sterling – who scored his first goal from outside the box since November 2018 – and Mahrez ample opportunity to attack and both men were a constant threat. 

That Schar was silly, Fabian…

Newcastle were unimaginative but defensively stubborn until Schar had two goes at pushing Jesus to ground. It was a real head-scratcher of a decision from the centre-back, one that ended the hosts' resilience. 

What's next?

City face Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals but are next set to give Liverpool a guard of honour when the new champions visit the Etihad Stadium on Thursday, a day after Newcastle make the mammoth trip to Bournemouth.

Manchester United will take on Chelsea as Arsenal face Newcastle United or holders Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals.

With five Premier League teams remaining in the hat, the draw took place at half-time during City's clash with Newcastle at St James' Park – Pep Guardiola's side having taken a 1-0 lead into the interval thanks to Kevin De Bruyne's penalty.

United - who needed extra-time to see off Norwich City on Saturday, with Harry Maguire scoring late in a 2-1 win - were drawn first and will go up against Frank Lampard's side, who defeated Leicester City 1-0 on Sunday.

It is a repeat of the 2017-18 FA Cup final, which Chelsea won 1-0 under Antonio Conte.

Arsenal required a stoppage-time effort from Dani Ceballos to book their place in the last four, with the Gunners' winner against Sheffield United coming just four minutes after David McGoldrick had struck a late equaliser.

The semi-final ties will be played behind closed doors at Wembley Stadium on July 18 and 19, with the final scheduled for August 1.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed his team will give Liverpool a guard of honour when they face the newly crowned Premier League champions at the Etihad Stadium next week.

City's 2-1 defeat at Chelsea on Thursday ended their two-year reign as champions, with Liverpool holding a now unassailable 23-point lead with seven games remaining.

The developing rivalry between City and Liverpool has featured moments of simmering tension over the recent seasons.

The visiting team bus was attacked with missiles before Liverpool recorded a resounding Champions League quarter-final win at Anfield in 2018, while the sides took last year's title race to the wire – Guardiola's men prevailing by 98 points to 97.

Yet the Catalan insisted it is only right that he and his players applaud their rivals, to pay respect to what Jurgen Klopp and his all-conquering squad have achieved.

"We are going to do the guard of honour, of course," he said.

"Always we receive Liverpool, when they came to our house, in an incredible way. They cannot complain.

"Of course we are going to do it because they deserve it."

Guardiola noted Liverpool's hunger to end a 30-year wait for a top-flight crown, saying they played every match as if it was "their last".

The ex-Barcelona boss is confident he knows why City came up well short in their bid for three in a row but balked at questions over the hunger of a team that has won six of the past eight major honours on offer in English football.

"I did not say [City played] without passion. Don't put words I didn't say," he said, bristling at the suggestion.

"I don't know the passion from Liverpool. I guess, I imagine what happened, when you are three-zero years without winning the Premier League, after winning the Champions League you are focused on that.

"But I didn't say this. Because a team that wins eight titles (including the 2018 and 2019 Community Shields) has passion. In every single game, every single competition. No one in this country can say that [City don't have passion].

"It is so difficult what we have done in the most difficult league by far in the world.

"In sport you have to live for the future, the next, but you have to have a little bit, one eye, on what we have done.

"Don't forget we are an incredible club and an incredible organisation. What we have to do is learn. I think we know the reason why we suffered this season and we're going to try to solve it next season."

Next up for City is a trip to Newcastle United in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup – one of two pieces of silverware they can add to this season's EFL Cup, with a long-awaited Champions League return against Real Madrid to come in August.

Goals from Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne established a 2-1 advantage over Zinedine Zidane's men at the Santiago Bernabeu back in February.

"Of course, we have a big challenge for these two titles," Guardiola added. 

"We fought for the Carabao Cup with the way we played and won the Community Shield against the champions of Europe.

"We are going to try at Newcastle to win and prepare for the last games of the Premier League, and arrive in the best conditions possible for Madrid."

Liverpool may have succeeded Manchester City as Premier League champions this week, yet Jurgen Klopp thinks Pep Guardiola remains the world's leading coach. 

City's 2-1 loss to Chelsea on Thursday confirmed it will be Klopp's Reds ending the 2019-20 campaign at the top of the table - the first time they have won English football's top flight in 30 years.

Guardiola's side had won the title with 100 and 98 points respectively in the previous two seasons, but this time around they find themselves 23 behind Klopp's runaway leaders having lost eight games - as many as ninth-placed Arsenal - in the Premier League.

Klopp's stock is growing as he added the Premier League trophy to the Champions League won by Liverpool last term, with former Barcelona boss Guardiola having so far come up short in Europe's premier club competition with both Bayern Munich and City.

However, Klopp still views his rival as he finest tactician around.

Asked if he must now be considered the world's greatest coach, Klopp told Bild: "I can't do anything with the title 'best coach in the world'.

"But I know that together with the whole trainer team we are very good coaches. But I think Pep Guardiola is the best coach of the world."

Prior to this season, Klopp had been the nearly man with Liverpool as he ended up on the losing side in the EFL Cup and Europa League finals in 2016, and the Champions League final two years later.

However, Klopp believes continuity has been key having seen Dortmund - a side that he took to back-to-back Bundesliga titles between 2010 and 2012 - finish seventh in his final campaign in charge after a number of his leading players departed.

"I didn't do much differently than before the lost finals in previous years," Klopp added.

"We made a lot of right decisions together. If I have a talent, it is probably that I can bring extremely good people together. For example, my coaching staff is exceptional, but there is no single recipe.

"It is also important that we have continued to develop. The problem in Dortmund was that our team fell apart. That didn't happen here and now the team has been exceptionally constant for two and a half years.

"We play every game as if it were the last one because we have nothing else to do on weekends."

Achraf Hakimi appears to have found a new home.

The Morocco international has impressed during his loan spell at Borussia Dortmund, attracting plenty of interest.

But LaLiga giants Real Madrid are reportedly ready to cash in on Achraf.

 

TOP STORY – INTER AGREE ACHRAF DEAL

Inter have agreed a deal to sign Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid, according to Sky Sport Italia.

Achraf has spent the past two seasons on loan at Borussia Dortmund, who have been interested in signing the Morocco international permanently.

Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have been among the clubs interested in Achraf, but Madrid are set to sell the 21-year-old to Antonio Conte's Inter for a reported €40million fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport1 claims Leroy Sane's proposed move to Bayern Munich is on hold until 2021. The Manchester City star is tipped to leave the Etihad Stadium for Bundesliga champions Bayern, though the two clubs have been unable to strike a deal. Sane now looks likely to depart once his contract expires next year.

Arthur will travel to Turin in the coming days to undergo a medical ahead of his move to Juventus, according to RAC1. Barcelona midfielder Arthur is set to join Juve, with Miralem Pjanic moving in the opposite direction.

Roma are plotting a move for free agent Edinson Cavani, says Calciomercato. Cavani is available on a free transfer after leaving PSG, with Atletico Madrid, Inter and Napoli eyeing the Uruguayan forward.

- Sport reports the Champions League will determine Neymar's future at PSG. Neymar has long been linked with a return to Barca following his world-record departure in 2017.

- Calciomercato says Milan are focused on signing Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai. However, PSG and Arsenal are also among the teams eyeing the 19-year-old Hungarian.

Manchester United are among the possible destinations for Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi, who faces an uncertain future with the London club, according to L'Equipe.

Kevin De Bruyne has urged his Manchester City team-mates to make 2019-20 a season to remember from the rubble of their failed title defence.

A stunning free-kick from the Belgium midfielder could not avert a 2-1 defeat at Chelsea – a result that ended saw Liverpool crowned Premier League champions and ended City's two-year stint as top dogs in England.

Attention now turns to an FA Cup quarter-final at Newcastle United on Sunday, with Pep Guardiola's side looking to add to the EFL Cup they collected thanks to a 2-1 triumph over Aston Villa in March.

Then there is the small matter of a tilt at an elusive Champions League success, after Gabriel Jesus and De Bruyne gave City a 2-1 advantage over Real Madrid in the first leg of their last-16 encounter.

Their focus in Europe's elite competition might be further sharpened if the club's appeal against a two-year ban from UEFA tournaments is not overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport next month.

"I think we have still got big chances in the FA Cup and Champions League," De Bruyne said.

"Imagine if we come out after winning these cups, it will be an unbelievable season. We have got a lot to play for and look forward to it."

Thursday's game with Chelsea amounted to City's season in microcosm, as a moment of De Bruyne brilliance nestled frustratingly alongside missed chances and costly defensive errors.

As such, the 28-year-old has no qualms in crediting Jurgen Klopp's side for a richly deserved triumph.

"We didn’t play badly, but at the end of the day, too many mistakes cost us," he said.

"We knew it was impossible [to catch Liverpool after lockdown]. You are always disappointed when you don't win, but I think we are honest enough to say Liverpool were better this year.

"I think we worked really hard, we played really well but we weren't good enough and that's no problem for us to admit.

"If everything goes to plan for us then I think we still have 13 or 14 games, so we still have a lot to play for and a lot of objectives."

Individual awards at the end of the season might be considered an objective for De Bruyne, given his frequently stellar showings and the likelihood of a split Liverpool vote.

His strike at Chelsea took him on to double figures for goals and assists in the Premier League campaign.

Nevertheless, after missing out to Mohamed Salah for the PFA and Football Writers' Association prizes in 2017-18, De Bruyne takes a typically phlegmatic view.

"It is not me who decides that," he added. "Two years ago I was second and we won the title 20 points ahead, so I don’t know how people decide.

"I think I have a chance. It is not me who decides and I think I can make my own analysis of how this season has gone.

"Whatever you get in the end is nice, but we will see."

City welcomed Phil Foden, John Stones and Claudio Bravo back to training ahead of the trip to Newcastle.

Foden picked up a knock during his two-goal showing against Burnley earlier this week, while centre-back Stones (ankle) and back-up goalkeeper Bravo (hamstring) have not featured since City resumed their season.

Manchester City were merely reigning Premier League champions from around the turn of the year. Any meaningful title defence ended a long time ago.

After amassing an astounding 198 points over the course of consecutive championship-winning campaigns, Pep Guardiola's men were unable to summon an adequate response in the face of Liverpool's relentless onslaught.

City's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge completed the formalities, meaning Guardiola's plans over how to wrest back control should already be well underway.

Here, we look at the areas where he and the Etihad Stadium's brain trust should be focusing their attention.

 

ADDRESS OBVIOUS GAPS IN THE SQUAD

Guardiola's suggestion at the end of last week that he might not seek a like-for-like replacement for Leroy Sane if the Germany winger completes his long-mooted switch to Bayern Munich understandably caused consternation among City fans. Vincent Kompany's influence and aura were irreplaceable when he called time on his career in Manchester in May 2019, but a new centre-back would certainly have come in handy.

The cruciate knee ligament injury that decimated Aymeric Laporte's campaign left Fernandinho simultaneously learning a new position and standing in as City's most reliable option in central defence, as Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones laboured. A high-quality partner for Laporte must be the number one transfer market priority.

A natural left-winger is also needed. Sane has been another long-term injury victim this term and, without that option, City's attacks have sometimes become narrow and predictable. On the subject of cruciate knee ligament injuries, Benjamin Mendy looks to have put a nightmarish two years behind him, although he endured a game to forget against Chelsea. It would be foolish to count on the France international's fitness holding for long and links to England left-back Ben Chilwell are understandable.

RECHARGE AND REPLENISH STAR MEN

The three positions above are likely to be the limit of City's ambitions in an uncertain market, with the depth of coronavirus' impact upon football finances yet to be fully realised. Whether or not the Court of Arbitration (CAS) for sport overturns or reduces their two-season Champions League ban must also be factored into any plans.

The good thing for Guardiola is the fact that plenty of room for improvement lies within. Aside from the imperious Kevin De Bruyne and the ever-prolific Sergio Aguero, it is hard to identify a senior City player who can be wholly satisfied with their efforts this term. Ederson's three errors leading to a goal are second only to Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka (five) in the division, while Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling have at times appeared burned out following the exertions of a triumphant 2018-19.

UNLEASH PHIL FODEN

David Silva's departure at the end of this season was expected to usher in Phil Foden to blossom as the master's apprentice. This has been muddied slightly by the England Under-21 star's best performances coming in a wide attacking role, most notably his man-of-the-match outing in the EFL Cup final and his two-goal showing in the recent 5-0 demolition of Burnley. He was badly missed at Chelsea.

Guardiola loves players who are adept in a number of roles and Foden has thrived regardless of what his brief is on any given stage. The academy product has long looked a player at home in this City team; he now seems like one who could significantly elevate it. It is time to let him fly.

REMAIN BANNED FROM THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

From having to scale down more ambitious transfer targets to tackling some awkward conversations with star players over their immediate futures, the seismic blow of City's exclusion from the Champions League holding firm should not be underplayed. However, if we are looking at this purely in terms of their chances of winning a third Premier League title in four seasons, a coach of Guardiola's calibre getting free midweeks to hone his side to his version of perfection is something of which Liverpool and others would be right to be wary.

DON'T ACTUALLY CHANGE TOO MUCH

Under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, City compiled deplorably meek title defences. The clear daylight between themselves and Liverpool this time around makes it tempting to lump their 2019-20 efforts in with those other failures. But there is an important wider context. The Manchester United and Chelsea sides that unseated Mancini and Pellegrini were not a patch on Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool machine. This City had won six of the previous seven domestic honours on offer and could conceivably finish 2019-20 with the FA Cup and that elusive Champions League nestled alongside the EFL Cup in the trophy cabinet.

Also, it is not a slight on the Reds' brilliance to note most things that could have fallen in their favour this season have. That is inevitable. City sealed their 100-point season with a last-minute winner at Southampton, having beaten Saints, Bournemouth, West Ham and Huddersfield Town in similar fashion before the turn of the year. Mind-boggling deeds require a certain level of fortune.

Heading into their game at Chelsea, City were still ahead of Liverpool by five points with a game in hand in Opta's Expected Goals league table (Yes, yes… when's the parade?!?!). Liverpool's brutally clinical efforts are to be admired, but the underlying numbers suggest such a gulf will not become the norm.

Liverpool have finally ended their wait for a breakthrough Premier League title, securing top-flight silverware for the first time since 1990.

Jurgen Klopp's men led the way as early as August and never relinquished their grasp on first place.

Unlike in the near misses in 2008-09, 2013-14 and 2018-19, the Reds would not be caught, with Manchester City and the rest of the Premier League trailing in their wake.

City's 2-1 loss at Chelsea on Thursday clinched the championship, but there were a number of key results along the way. We take a look.
 

Norwich City 3-2 Manchester City - September 14

Pep Guardiola's side blinked first in the title race. Although City had already dropped points at home to Tottenham before visiting Norwich, it appeared the defending champions would again match Liverpool stride for stride. But one of the upsets of the season sent shockwaves through the division in matchweek five.

City lost Aymeric Laporte to a knee ligament injury the previous weekend, and John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi endured a miserable evening as Kenny McLean, Todd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki scored at Carrow Road. Liverpool had earlier come from behind to beat Newcastle United, establishing a strong early advantage.

Sheffield United 0-1 Liverpool - September 28

Liverpool did eventually drop points for the first time against Manchester United in October, but their winning start continued to that point despite a serious test against newly promoted Sheffield United.

The Blades have been a surprise package this season and were perhaps good value for a point against Klopp's men, only for an uncharacteristic error by goalkeeper Dean Henderson - on loan from rivals United - to gift Georginio Wijnaldum a precious 70th-minute winner.

Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool - November 2

It is often said that the best teams win even when they do not play well, and the victory at Sheffield United was far from unique in that sense. Indeed, at Villa Park, Liverpool were heading for defeat until the 87th minute.

However, Andy Robertson stole in for a late equaliser, and then Sadio Mane incredibly clinched victory in the fourth minute of stoppage time. It was the second such comeback from the Reds in two weeks, having previously rallied against Tottenham at Anfield in a crucial stretch that included a dramatic win over Leicester City and their 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.

Liverpool 3-1 Manchester City - November 10

And eight days on from the win at Villa, Liverpool increased their lead at the top of the table to eight points with victory over City, who were left a further point back in fourth. With the Reds' failure to beat Guardiola's side home or away in 2018-19 proving costly, this success represented a huge boost.

The match was not without its controversies, however, as City fumed at an apparent Trent Alexander-Arnold handball in the build-up to Fabinho's opener. The right-back looked to be guilty of the same offence again late in the game, with no penalty given, as Mohamed Salah and Mane also netted in a mammoth triumph.

Liverpool 2-0 Watford - December 14

Along with the run of fixtures leading into that City game, December represented a key spell for Liverpool as their title bid was disrupted by the Club World Cup. Watford would be the side to finally beat the Reds in February and, in the final match before the FIFA tournament, they gave it a good go at Anfield, too.

Nigel Pearson's first game in charge of the Hornets saw Liverpool troubled throughout, and not until Salah struck his second in the 90th minute were the points made safe.

Leicester City 0-4 Liverpool - December 26

Liverpool won the Club World Cup in Qatar, but it was like they had never been away when their league campaign resumed on Boxing Day. Leicester were second when the teams met but were blown away on their own patch.

Roberto Firmino opened the scoring before the break and then netted again, along with James Milner and Alexander-Arnold, in a ruthless eight-minute second-half spell. City lost at Wolves the following day - their second defeat of December - and the title race already looked to have been run.

Tottenham 2-0 Manchester City - February 2

Liverpool were relentless over the festive period, and their rivals' struggles meant Klopp's side could even afford a slow restart following the February mid-season break. Any slim City hopes of a spectacular pursuit of the Anfield club were surely already over in defeat at Tottenham prior to the weekend off.

Ilkay Gundogan missed a penalty, Oleksandr Zinchenko was sent off, and Steven Bergwijn and Son Heung-min netted. Bernardo Silva subsequently moaned City "gave up a bit too soon" in the title race. When Guardiola's men went down 2-0 again at Manchester United a month later, Liverpool were on the brink.

Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish thinks anyone predicting 30 years without a league title would have been "arrested and sectioned".

Manchester City's 2-1 defeat at Chelsea on Thursday ended the Reds' three-decade wait to be crowned top dogs in England for the 19th time, Jurgen Klopp's imperious side now holding an unassailable 23-point lead with seven games remaining.

Dalglish was the last manager to lead Liverpool to glory in an era when league titles were routinely hoarded at Anfield.

"If you'd have said that, you would have been arrested and sectioned," he told BT Sport when asked for some immediate reaction to the end of the drought, for which he gives Klopp much of the credit.

"Sometimes things happen, but since Jurgen has come in he's been fantastic. He epitomises everything Liverpool Football Club stand for.

"It's not just a one off. Last year, they came within a point of it. They've won the Club World Cup, the Champions League... onwards and upwards and I think we've got a lot more happy days to look forward to."

Nevertheless, Dalglish feels having opponents of the quality of City, Chelsea and Manchester United means a prolonged spell of dominance is unlikely.

He also cited City's failure to replace influential captain Vincent Kompany for this season as a pivotal moment in the destination of the title, with Pep Guardiola's shaky backline again found wanting in an error-strewn showing at Stamford Bridge.

"It’s hard work to dominate the English league, when you've got sides the quality of Manchester City," Dalglish added.

"Manchester City's problems have always been in the back four. And losing Vincent Kompany. I don't think they’ve replaced him. They need someone in there who can be a replacement for Vincent Kompany.

"They've got some fantastic players. They're going to lose one of the best when David Silva leaves at the end of the season.

"There are some fantastic teams. Chelsea and Man U are kicking on for next season. So, I don't think they'll dominate."

Liverpool have become Premier League champions for the first time, ending a three-decade wait to win the English top flight again.

The Reds' 19th league title was secured on Thursday when Chelsea's 2-1 victory over Manchester City at Stamford Bridge meant Pep Guardiola's side could no longer mathematically catch Jurgen Klopp's men.

The destination of the 2019-20 Premier League title has been a foregone conclusion for some time, though, with Liverpool having taken a remarkable 86 points from their first 31 games.

Klopp's side pushed City all the way last season but, despite claiming 97 points on that occasion, they finished behind a City side that won back-to-back titles.

This time around it has been the club from Merseyside who have set a relentless pace.

Liverpool dropped just two points from their opening 27 games and did not taste defeat in the Premier League until the final day of February when beaten 3-0 by Watford at Vicarage Road.

At that point their lead over City was already 22 points and only the coronavirus-enforced break has delayed their confirmation as champions for the first time since 1989-90.

That title triumph was Liverpool's 18th league championship, a record haul that has since been eclipsed by Manchester United following their glorious run under Alex Ferguson.

However, Klopp's arrival from Borussia Dortmund to replace Brendan Rodgers in 2015 turned Liverpool into a force once more – at first on the continent, and now domestically.

Liverpool beat Tottenham in the Champions League final 12 months ago, a year after being beaten at the same stage by Real Madrid in Kiev, to win Europe's premier club competition for a sixth time.

But it was the top domestic prize for which their fans had yearned for so long, and Klopp's men of 2019-20 have now ended that long wait, and with seven games to spare.

Liverpool are Premier League champions after Manchester City were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.

Pep Guardiola's side had the chance to prolong the Reds' 30-year wait at least until the two sides meet at the Etihad Stadium next week, but the title was within touching distance when Christian Pulisic gave Frank Lampard's side a 36th-minute lead.

Kevin De Bruyne's spectacular free-kick brought City level and Raheem Sterling hit the post, but their vulnerability on the break was eventually punished when Fernandinho handled in a desperate 75th-minute goalmouth scramble.

The veteran Brazil international was sent off and his countryman Willian sealed the points and crowned Jurgen Klopp's dominant league winners.

Kepa Arrizabalaga acrobatically pushed Fernandinho's header from Riyad Mahrez's free-kick over the crossbar amid a controlled opening half-hour from City.

Ederson saved well from Pulisic and Andreas Christensen in quick succession at the other end, and he merited better protection when Chelsea took the lead.

Poor communication between Ilkay Gundogan and Benjamin Mendy and the latter's botched recovery tackle that left Pulisic in the clear to finish coolly.

There was questionable wisdom in Mendy seeking to atone for his errors by shooting frequently from distance early in the second half.

In the 55th minute, De Bruyne added finesse to that tactic with a sumptuous dipping free-kick after N'Golo Kante clumsily fouled Mahrez.

A one-touch counter-attack then ended with Sterling dinking against the post, with Chelsea's efforts noticeably more laboured.

Ederson launched that attack but a poor pass out was almost punished as Mason Mount thumped into the side netting.

City's slick dominance of the ball but creaky defence lent an intriguing balance to the final quarter of the contest – Sterling curling agonisingly wide before Kyle Walker somehow got back to improbably deny Pulisic a second on the goal line.

Fernandinho was unable to be so precise when denying Tammy Abraham, leaving Willian to send Ederson the wrong way and prompt celebrations on Merseyside.

 

What does it mean: Chelsea take important step towards the Champions League

Although most of the focus was understandable on the main consequence of this Chelsea victory, it was a huge three points for the Stamford Bridge side. Their five-point advantage over a resurgent Manchester United in fifth is restored, while a wobbling Leicester City are now just a point better off with seven matches remaining.

De Bruyne shows his class once again

It feels like a trick of the mind that City won a thrilling title battle last season with De Bruyne reduced to a bit-part role by two medial knee ligament injuries. He has performed at a level above his colleagues this time around, with his free-kick here another champagne moment that adds weight to his case for end-of-season honours.

Mendy's moment to forget

In the build-up to this match, Mendy spoke of how this was his "time" and how he wanted to show people "the real Mendy" following his injury nightmare. Presumably, the slapstick version on display for Chelsea's opener was not what he had in mind. Guardiola needs a more reliable left-back next season, in terms of both form and fitness.

What's next?

Liverpool will emerge at the Etihad Stadium as champions, with the main bit of pre-match intrigue now set to revolve around whether a guard of honour is workable in the age of social distancing. Before that, City and Chelsea have away FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday at Newcastle United and Leicester respectively.

Liverpool's trip to Manchester City next week will take place at the Etihad Stadium after council officials decided there was no need to move the game.

The July 2 fixture had been earmarked as one that was being considered for being moved to a neutral venue, as Liverpool close in on the Premier League title.

Concerns that Liverpool fans could gather in large numbers, at a time when the coronavirus pandemic remains a threat to public health, had led to suggestions some games could be moved.

Greater Manchester Police has been carrying out risk assessments of Premier League games in the area, and the visit of Liverpool has now been cleared by Manchester City Council.

Councillor Luthfur Rahman, an executive member for skills, culture and leisure, said: “The council's safety advisory group [SAG] for the Etihad Stadium met this morning to review the upcoming fixture between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC.

"Following the most recent round of Premier League fixtures, which have all taken place behind closed doors, the SAG has signalled it has no objections to the above fixture taking place at the Etihad Stadium as planned at 8.15pm, Thursday July 2. As with all other Premier League matches this fixture will take place behind closed doors, with no fans present."

Liverpool have moved to the brink of becoming English champions for the first time since 1990 after a 4-0 home win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday left them needing a maximum of two points from their remaining seven games.

There is a possibility of the title being secured before Liverpool head to Manchester, with City needing to win at Chelsea this Thursday to delay celebrations on Merseyside.

Jurgen Klopp's side would make certain of the title with a draw at City, given Pep Guardiola's team are the only side that can mathematically catch Liverpool.

Kalidou Koulibaly has been a man in demand for quite some time.

Clubs in Europe have reportedly queued up to sign the Napoli centre-back.

Koulibaly could finally get his move, with a Premier League giant reportedly working on a deal.

 

TOP STORY – CITY FRONTRUNNERS FOR KOULIBALY

Manchester City are favourites to prise Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli, according to Duncan Castles of the Sunday Times.

Koulibaly has long been linked with a Napoli exit – City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham, Real Madrid and Barcelona all reported admirers.

But it seems the star defender is more likely to join Pep Guardiola's City than Premier League leaders Liverpool.

 

ROUND-UP

Edinson Cavani is among the alternatives to Inter's Lautaro Martinez for Barcelona, says Sky Sport Italia. Barca want to sign Martinez but the LaLiga champions are struggling to meet Inter's demands. Now Cavani, who will not sign a new contract with Paris Saint-Germain and is a free agent, could end up at Camp Nou. The Uruguayan forward has also been linked to Inter and Atletico Madrid. Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is also on the list, though Juventus are reportedly eyeing the disgruntled Gabon international.

Juve and Barca have reached an agreement over a swap deal involving Arthur and Miralem Pjanic, reports Goal. Arthur had been reluctant to leave Barca for Juve but the Spanish giants could receive a fee of €70million.

Liverpool are frontrunners to sign Bayern Munich star Thiago Alcantara, says Bild. The Spanish midfielder had been set to extend his contract but he has apparently backed out of a new deal.

Borussia Dortmund may keep Jadon Sancho after all. The England international has been tipped to join United at the end of the season. Unless Dortmund receive £117m (€130m), they will continue with Sancho, reports Sport Bild, which also claims the Bundesliga club could offer a bumper new deal.

- Gianluca Di Marzio says Lazio and Inter are battling over the signing of Hellas Verona defender Marash Kumbulla. Inter have reportedly made a €25milion offer for Kumbulla, who has also been linked to Juve.

Chelsea and Real Madrid are going head-to-head for Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz, claims WinSports. Chelsea are believed to have submitted an offer worth £8m (€8.8m) more than Madrid's bid.

Fred is ready to discuss a new long-term contract with United, the Sun reports. After a difficult start to life at Old Trafford, the Brazilian has established himself as a key member of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

- According to Le10 Sport, Madrid and Barca are interested in Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi.

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