Manchester City missed the opportunity to wrap up the 2020-21 Premier League title against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium as they fell to a 2-1 loss in a match-up of teams that will contest the Champions League final on May 29.
Raheem Sterling opened the scoring for City on the stroke of half-time before Sergio Aguero missed a penalty in what turned out to be a crucial moment; Hakim Ziyech levelled For Chelsea after the hour mark, before Marcos Alonso scored the winning goal two minutes into added time.
Gabriel Jesus set up City’s goal on 44 minutes with a cross into the box that was meant for Aguero, but City’s all-time leading scorer produced a bad touch and was fortunate the ball fell to Sterling, who smashed it into the net.
Aguero had the opportunity to make up for his mistake three minutes later when Billy Gilmour gave away a penalty for pulling down Jesus, but an attempted Panenka enabled Edouard Mendy to casually stand up and catch the spot kick.
“It’s his decision,” City manager Pep Guardiola said after the game. “The taker makes his decision. He decided to take it his way, I’ve nothing to add.”
Aguero, though, took to Twitter to say he was sorry: “I would like to apologise to my teammates, staff and supporters for missing the penalty. It was a bad decision and I take full responsibility.”
City were left rueing that missed chance on 63 minutes when Ziyech levelled the score. Christian Pulisic and Cesar Azpilicueta teamed up with some nice once-twos before the Chelsea captain passed Ziyech, who hit a low shot past Ederson.
Chelsea had the ball in the net twice more — Timo Werner and substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi had goals ruled out for offside — before Tuchel’s side struck in the game’s final moments, with Alonso’s scuffed shot delaying City’s dreams of clinching the Premier League title.
The goal came after a strong penalty shout in the Chelsea area when Sterling looked to be impeded by Kurt Zouma and Guardiola said after the match it should have been a spot kick.
“It’s a penalty. That’s all,” Guardiola said. “It happens, it’s football. We will try next time to score our penalty. That”s all I can say. I saw on the TV it was a penalty.”
Chelsea saw the game out to add another win to the FA Cup semifinal triumph they claimed against City last month, leaving Tuchel to laud his side for recovering from their slow start.
“I think the second half was a fantastic response to the last five minutes of the first half where we almost lost it all. To me it was a clear 0-0 half but suddenly we did one decisive mistake and maybe the match becomes out of reach at half-time,” Tuchel said.
“It was a tough battle and once we got the equaliser we never stopped attacking,” Tuchel added. “[The winning goal] was a huge reward. This tells us we can rely on our fitness which is a fantastic feeling at the end of a season. We can also rely on our team spirit, we keep going.”
Despite their missed chance, City will win the title if Manchester United lose to Aston Villa on Sunday and Guardiola was pragmatic as he assessed what lay ahead for his team.
“In 21 days we are going to face [Chelsea] again in the Champions League final,” he said. “We will learn from that and get the points we need to be champions.”