Ilkay Gundogan produced a title-winning cameo as Manchester City beat Aston Villa 3-2 to seal the Premier League.

Manchester City secured the 2021/22 Premier League title thanks to a 3-2 comeback win over Aston Villa. It was a tense final day at the Etihad, with the league leaders needing to come back from a two-goal deficit to seal the title and retain their dominance in English football.

Approaching this game in need of a win, Manchester City quite predictably dominated the proceedings right from the beginning. They controlled possession and tried to probe the Aston Villa defence that looked extremely well-rehearsed, with the two central defenders offering little to no freedom for the opposition attackers.

Chances only came at a premium for Manchester City, who eventually fell victim to a quick counter-attack by Aston Villa. Lucas Digne was the architect, with the left-back’s cross into the box finding the right-back Matty Cash, who made no mistake in handing Aston Villa an unlikely lead in the 37th minute.

The pressure mounted further on the Manchester City players when they conceded the second goal in the 69th minute. In fact, they were chasing the game for the most part, and at one point, their fans may have considered Wolverhampton Wanderers clinging on to a point at Liverpool as their only hope for salvation.

But the Cityzens got back into the game thanks to an impressive cameo from Ilkay Gundogan. The former Borussia Dortmund starlet pulled one back for his team in the 76th minute. It was followed by a goal from Rodri in the 78th minute before Gundogan completed his brace by latching on to a cross from Kevin de Bruyne in the 81st minute.

Three goals in the space of five minutes completed an incredible comeback from Manchester City, thus rendering Liverpool’s late comeback win over Wolves irrelevant. The Sky Blues have now secured their fourth league title in five years now, while Aston Villa finished 14th in the league table following the defeat. Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sets of players in their entertaining match-up at the Etihad this Sunday.

Manchester City

Ederson Moraes: 6/10

Ederson could not have done much to save either of the two goals he conceded. He looked solid when required, while his distribution and passing were top-notch, as usual.

John Stones: 7/10

Coming on the back of a slight niggle, Stones produced a rather decent shift despite playing as a right-back. He was physical enough to deal with the threat of Aston Villa defenders, while his athleticism allowed him to make multiple recoveries.

Fernandinho: 4/10

Fernandinho looked in awful touch right from the very beginning. He looked uncomfortable dealing with Ollie Watkins, and his lack of pace and mobility did not help either. The veteran is simply not a good fit at centre-back, and he was rightly taken off at half-time. Not the greatest of farewells from the Brazilian, but he will be happy to have won the title.

Aymeric Laporte: 7.5/10

Aymeric Laporte was the pick of the Manchester City defenders. He looked solid from the off, using his pace and mobility to keep the Aston Villa attackers at bay, even making a last-ditch tackle to deny Watkins. A solid defensive effort by the former Athletic Club centre-back.

Joao Cancelo: 6.5/10

Joao Cancelo endured a slow start to the game. He was culpable of conceding the first goal as he could not keep track of Matty Cash’s run and was caught ball-watching. But he improved in the second half, though it was far from his usual dominant performance.

Rodri: 7/10

Rodri largely did not make any impact on the proceedings. He looked rather incompetent in dealing with some aerial duels. But the midfielder kept plugging away and was rewarded for his patience with a late goal, as he calmly placed the ball past Robin Olsen. This performance typifies the kind of player Rodri is and will be for Manchester City in the years to come.

Kevin De Bruyne: 7/10

Kevin De Bruyne had a difficult first half as he struggled to break the shackles of the Aston Villa defence. But he improved after the restart and was, at times, the only player trying to make things happen. He was rewarded for his persistence with the all-important assist for Gundogan’s winner that helped Manchester City win the title. Another top game, another performance from the Belgian international.

Bernardo Silva: 5/10

Bernardo Silva was another Manchester City player who endured an off day against Aston Villa. The Portuguese international was not able to make a telling impact on the creative side of things. He was subbed off midway through the second half, as Pep Guardiola sought creativity from elsewhere.

Riyad Mahrez: 6/10

Riyad Mahrez looked promising at times with his ability to dribble past defenders inside the box. He even created one opening in the first half, but for the most part, he looked harmless. He was subbed off ten mins into the second half by Guardiola.

Gabriel Jesus: 6/10

Gabriel Jesus worked hard to make things happen in the final third. But the Brazilian simply lacks the physical or aerial strength to become an effective striker, especially when the opposition defends in a deep block. This was one of those occasions for the attacker.

Phil Foden: 6/10

Phil Foden dropped a rather disappointing performance in this big game. He failed to create any real goalscoring opportunities and lacked the creativity to make things happen in the final third. He improved a lot in the second half, though, making life difficult for Cash on the flanks.

SUBSTITUTES

Oleksandr Zinchenko: 7.5/10

Oleksandr Zinchenko’s substitution at half-time was a genius move by Guardiola, as it offered more attacking impetus from Manchester City, helping them create more width going forward. The decision paid off late in the game when the Ukrainian dribbled past a couple of players to weigh the ball up perfectly for Rodri’s calculated effort on goal.

Raheem Sterling: 7/10

Raheem Sterling certainly offered more than Mahrez on the far side. He caused problems for the Aston Villa defenders with his quick feet and dynamism. The Englishman made a telling impact as well, providing the cross that led to Gundogan’s first goal.

Ilkay Gundogan: 8/10

Ilkay Gundogan was by far the player of the match for Manchester City in this stunning win over Aston Villa. In what could have been his final game for Manchester City, the German midfielder offered those driven runs into the box to hand them the numerical advantage. The move paid off as he bagged a quick brace to help his team secure the title.

Aston Villa

Robin Olsen: 6/10

It was a rare start for Robin Olsen as Emiliano Martinez was kept out of the squad. The former Everton goalkeeper was predictably iffy at the start, notably getting closed down quickly by Jesus. But he improved afterwards, although he would not be all too happy with the three goals conceded.

Matty Cash: 7/10

Matty Cash made an extraordinary run to score the opener for Aston Villa. He looked excellent in the first half, operating up and down the pitch and making life difficult for Cancelo. But his influence faded as the game progressed, with the right-back ending failing to mark Gundogan for Manchester City’s first goal of the night.

Calum Chambers: 7/10

Calum Chambers produced a remarkable display at the heart of the Aston Villa backline. He was always on the toes of Gabriel Jesus and offered little to no space for the Manchester City attackers to work with. He may even have turned out to be the player of the match had it not been for a late collapse.

Tyrone Mings: 7/10

Tyrone Mings offered decent defensive cover for Chambers throughout the game, barring the late stages where he was shellshocked by Manchester City’s quick-fire strikes. He looked solid, especially in aerial and physical duels, but he will be very disappointed to have failed to prevent Manchester City’s late onslaught.

Lucas Digne: 7.5/10

Lucas Digne produced a fine effort at left-back. He was willing to attack the opposition at every opportunity and even created the all-important assist for Cash’s opener. The Frenchman was one of the best performers for Aston Villa in this defeat.

John McGinn: 6/10

John McGinn showed his quality early on in the proceedings by delivering a dangerous cross into the box. But that was the only real contribution from the midfielder that struggled to deal with Manchester City’s quality in the middle of the park.

Douglas Luiz: 5/10

Douglas Luiz looked shaky during the initial phase of the game and was lucky to get away with an error. It was not the best of the games for the Brazilian, who was overwhelmed by the quality of the Manchester City midfielder he was up against.

Jacob Ramsey: 6/10

Jacob Ramsey was given the nod by Steven Gerrard due to his creativity and ability to make driving runs into the final third. But both were missing against Manchester City, though his energy and dynamism did offer a bit of life to Aston Villa’s second line of press.

Emiliano Buendia: 5/10

Emiliano Buendia endured a disastrous game in the final third. He misplaced his passes, lacked control and gave away possession too cheaply while failing to produce anything of note. The Argentine should have made way for Danny Ings a lot earlier, as Aston Villa were missing the attacking support upfront.

Philippe Coutinho: 6.5/10

Philippe Coutinho looked determined to make things happen in the final third and do his former club Liverpool a favour. The Brazilian playmaker did not disappoint either, producing a hard-working attacking display and notably scoring the second goal of the night that would have won Liverpool the title, had it not been for a late comeback from Manchester City.

Ollie Watkins: 6.5/10

Ollie Watkins had a mixed bag of a game against Manchester City. He caused defenders problems with his runs in behind the backline, but at the same time, he did miss a few goalscoring opportunities and lacked the creative brilliance in the final third. An excellent shift, nonetheless, although Gerrard should have added more support for the former Brentford man by starting with Ings in place of Buendia.

SUBSTITUTES

Marvelous Nakamba: 5/10

Marvelous Nakamba was brought in around the 72nd minute to help Aston Villa see out their two-goal cushion. But the Villans ended up conceding three quickfire goals shortly after his introduction.

Danny Ings: N/A

A late replacement for Ramsey. Should have been brought on much earlier.

Ashley Young: N/A

A late replacement for Buendia. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

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