Guardiola to play golf, not watch if Man City can seal title
LONDON — Rather than seeing if Manchester City wins the English Premier League, Pep Guardiola will be on the golf course.
The manager plans to be playing a round with son Marius on Sunday when City will be crowned champions if West Bromwich Albion wins at Manchester United.
“Will I hear the scores? Bogey, double-bogey, birdie,” Guardiola said after a 3-1 victory at Tottenham on Saturday.
Even if United doesn’t lose to the league’s bottom team, City can still seal the trophy before playing again. That will be achieved by United losing at Bournemouth on Wednesday or if Jose Mourinho’s side draws with both West Brom and Bournemouth.
What is clear is City has its swagger back after a demoralizing week that saw the leaders fail to seal top spot by losing the Manchester derby and exiting the Champions League.
For now, City is 16 points in front of United with five games to go after impressively inflicting fourth-place Tottenham’s second home loss of the season. And City will secure its third title since 2012 by beating Swansea next Sunday.
“People say it was a big failure, what happened last week, but they don’t understand the reality of football,” Guardiola said. “You can win the Champions League in seven games, the league is 10 months. I’m sorry; it’s much more important what these guys have done this season. Hopefully we can celebrate with our fans against Swansea and be champions because they deserve it.”
Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling scored in a commanding display that shows why City has 28 wins from 33 matches in the league.
Beating an English rival, though, proved beyond City in the Champions League — going out in the quarterfinals to Liverpool on Tuesday.
Juergen Klopp’s third-place side looks set to seal a place in the continent’s top competition even if it doesn’t lift the European Cup after beating Bournemouth 3-0 to stay 10 points clear of fifth-place champion Chelsea.
Tottenham still occupies the fourth Champions League spot, although Chelsea closed the gap to seven points after coming from behind to beat Southampton 3-2.
By throwing away a two-goal lead, Southampton endangered its chances of avoiding the drop.
Crystal Palace and Huddersfield moved further clear of the drop zone with wins.
Wilfried Zaha scored twice as Palace beat Brighton 3-2 to move six points clear of Southampton, which occupies the final relegation place.
Huddersfield was a point above Palace after Tom Ince’s stoppage-time goal beat Watford 1-0.
Swansea moved five points ahead of Southampton after drawing with Everton 1-1.
Burnley’s unlikely pursuit of a Europa League spot continued with a 2-1 victory over Leicester thanks to goals from Chris Wood and Kevin Long. Burnley is seventh, two points behind Arsenal, which plays on Sunday at Newcastle.
Wolverhampton Wanderers will be returning to the Premier League next season after a six-year absence. Promotion was secured from the League Championship after Fulham drew with Brentford.
In front of more than 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, City signaled its intent when Leroy Sane hit the post inside three minutes.
The opener then came from a move not usually associated with a Guardiola side — with a long ball from Kyle Walker launched into the path of Gabriel Jesus, who outpaced Davinson Sanchez before netting in the 22nd minute.
Gundogan netted three minutes later from the penalty spot after goalkeeper Hugo Lloris rashly tackled Sterling on the edge of the area.
Tottenham appeared back in the game when Christian Eriksen was fed by Harry Kane to score before halftime but Sterling eased City to the win by netting in the 72nd, pouncing after Gabriel Jesus’ shot was parried by Lloris.
It ended a 14-game unbeaten run in the league for Tottenham that began after losing at City in December.
“The way we conceded was disappointing, but there’s nothing to worry about,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said. “We are in the top four. We need to move on after this game.”
Mohamed Salah is now only the third Liverpool player to have scored 40 times in a season, and there’s still a month to go.
The Egypt forward headed in the landmark goal either of strikes from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino on a day when the attacking might of Liverpool’s pacey front-three was felt by Bournemouth.
Liverpool has 121 goals in all competitions.
“What a number we scored as a team in the whole season, that’s crazy,” Klopp said. “That’s really good but we have to carry on, there are a few games to come.”
Salah alone has 30 goals in the league, five more than Kane.
Chelsea is still in with a slim chance of making one of the four Champions League places.
That appeared a more distant proposition in the first hour at Southampton when Dusan Tadic and Jan Bednarek scored for the hosts.
But the champions scored three goals in eight minutes. Substitute Olivier Giroud began the fightback in the 70th by heading in Marcos Alonso’s cross. Eden Hazard pulled Chelsea level and Giroud’s half-volley seized the three points.
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