Jonathan Cook’s World Game Wrap-Up

City dig in for title

They have a constellation of stars, but it was one of Manchester City’s unsung heroes, Ilkay Gundogan, who provided the crucial contribution on a dramatic final day of the season against Aston Villa.

On as a second-half substitute, the German international scored twice as City somehow found three goals in the final 15 minutes to claim their fourth league title in five seasons. Liverpool, who beat Wolves 3-1, finished just a point behind.

Imagine how Villa manager Steven Gerrard and midfielder Philippe Coutinho – both ex-Liverpool men – must have been feeling when Coutinho scored to give the visitors a two-goal lead?

But their hopes of spoiling City’s party vanished as Gundogan scored either side of a thumping Rodri goal to wrap up three points and another title.

Champions League consolation?

As far as consolation prizes go, there are few bigger than lifting the UEFA Champions League trophy.

That’s the potential for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who face Real Madrid for European club football’s top prize in Paris on Saturday night.

While Real won La Liga by 13 points, they have had a nerve-jangling run to the Champions League final, overcoming deficits to beat Paris Saint Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City along the way.

While some might consider the Champions League the holy grail of European football, Klopp recently described the Premier League as the most important competition for his club.

Having finished second to Manchester City in the Premier League, Liverpool will be aiming to win a third trophy of the season having already won the League Cup and FA Cup.

Leeds survive, Burnley relegated

Leeds United became the first Premier League team in more than a decade to start the final day of the season in the bottom three and avoid relegation.

Trailing fourth-from-bottom Burnley on goal difference before kick-off, Leeds confirmed their top-flight status next season with a 2-1 win over Brentford.

Jack Harrison’s stoppage time goal was the final nail in Burnley’s coffin, although the Clarets’ 2-1 defeat to Newcastle meant a draw would have been enough for Jesse Marsch’s side.

Leeds became the first team since Wigan in 2011 to climb out of the relegation zone on the last day of the season.

Norwich City and Watford have also been relegated.

Spurs into Champions League

Tottenham Hotspur secured their place in next season’s Champions League at the expense of their north London rivals Arsenal.

Spurs manager Antonio Conte, who took on the role in November last year with Spurs eighth on the table, described the season as one of the most challenging of his career.

Tottenham finished just two points ahead of the Gunners after both teams ended their season with a flourish.

Arsenal won 5-1 at home to Everton while Spurs won 5-0 away to relegated Norwich.

Milan break drought

Eleven years after helping AC Milan win their previous Serie A title, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was celebrating again after a drought-breaking success.

Following more than a decade in the shadow of Juventus and their city rivals Internazionale, who won the title last season, Milan finally claimed their 19th league title.

Searching for a win on the final day of the season, Milan cruised to a 3-0 victory over Sassuolo through first-half goals from Olivier Giroud (two) and Franck Kessie.

Ibrahimovic, who scored 14 Serie A goals in the 2010-11 title-winning side, came off the bench to play the last 18 minutes of a victory that left Inter two points behind.

Inter had pushed Milan all the way and finished their season with a 3-0 win over Sampdoria.

United’s historic step

It wasn’t quite the shirt-whirling reaction of World Cup qualification, but John Aloisi was a happy man after Western United’s win over Melbourne Victory on Saturday.

Just three seasons into their A-League history, Western United earned a place in their first grand final by stunning Melbourne Victory.

Aloisi’s side lost the first leg but responded with a 4-1 victory, courtesy of a double from Aleksandar Prijovic and goals from Lachlan Wales and Dylan Wenzel-Halls.

Aloisi, who is still fondly remembered by Socceroos fans for scoring the penalty that sent Australia to the 2006 World Cup in Germany, was mobbed by his players after the win.

Maclaren’s magic moment

Jamie Maclaren’s 16th goal of the season propelled Melbourne City into Saturday’s A-League grand final and earned the golden boot winner a chance to erase the bitter-sweet memories of last season.

City, 2-1 winners over Adelaide United yesterday, are on the cusp of a second successive premiership-championship double. They will take on Western United in a season finale with special significance for Maclaren.

While his teammates were overcoming Sydney FC in last season’s grand final, Maclaren was watching on a hotel TV. He was in quarantine following World Cup qualifying duty with the Socceroos.

After a goalless draw in Adelaide last week, City went behind to Zach Clough’s strike early in the second half yesterday. But after Marco Tilio pulled City level, Maclaren fired home the winner in the first period of extra time.

Rangers break Hearts

Rangers helped themselves to a consolation prize of sorts as they beat Hearts in the Scottish Cup final.

Just three days after losing in the UEFA Europa League final on penalties to Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt, Rangers were taken to extra time in a domestic cup battle.

This one also looked like penalties might be on the cards after a goalless 90 minutes. But Ryan Jack broke the deadlock four minutes into extra time and Scott Wright doubled the lead three minutes later.

Mbappe committed to PSG

Kylian Mbappe turned down a move to Real Madrid before scoring a hat-trick in Paris St Germain’s 5-0 thrashing of Metz.

Mbappe, who was on the brink of joining Real before opting to extend his stay at PSG, condemned Metz to life in France’s second tier next season.

Champions PSG finished the season 15 points above second-placed Marseille. With Mbappe re-signed to a new lucrative deal, it’s hard to see how any club can make up ground on France’s top club next season.

Abraham makes history

Tammy Abraham is loving life in Italy. The former Chelsea striker scored twice in Roma’s 2-0 win over Torino last week to etch his name in history.

He won’t receive a medal for his feat, but in reaching 17 goals in a single Serie A season he became the highest scoring English player in the competition’s history.

Abraham surpassed the 16 goals scored by Gerry Hitchens for Inter Milan in the 1961-62 season.

Forest and Terriers in richest game

Often referred to as the richest game in world football, the English Championship play-off final at Wembley on Sunday will feature two teams aiming to return to the Premier League.

Nottingham Forest, who have twice won the European Cup, last featured in the top tier in 1999. Their opponents Huddersfield Town might be a smaller club but they have more recent experience in the Premier League.

The Terriers spent two seasons in the top division from 2017 to 2019 before returning to the Championship.

In the semi-finals, Forest had Brice Samba’s goalkeeping heroics to thank for their penalty shoot-out victory over Sheffield United, while Huddersfield saw off Luton Town.

Fulham and Bournemouth have already been promoted to the Premier League after finishing first and second.