Football: Relief for Man City fans as Guardiola's side snatch victory from defeat

Manchester City fans cheering during a live screening of the game against Aston Villa, at Our Tampines Hub, on May 22, 2022. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Liverpool and Manchester City fans who were at Our Tampines Hub's (OTH) live screening of the Citizens' match against Aston Villa on Sunday (May 22) night were put through a roller-coaster of emotions.

Barely three minutes had elapsed when a small cheer broke out among the sprinkling of City fans in sky blue, as news filtered through that Pedro Neto had given Wolves the lead at Anfield, reducing the odds of the Reds regaining the English Premier League title.

At that point, Reds supporters - who formed the majority of the 100 fans gathered at OTH's Festive Plaza - were hoping for their team to score twice and that Villa, managed by Kop favourite Steven Gerrard, can nick another one.

Remarkably, two-thirds of that equation happened in the first half - Sadio Mane equalised for Liverpool, while Villa's Matty Cash scored the opener at the Etihad Stadium - as the Reds fans found their voice again.

With the championship on the line, the second half was true squeaky bum time, as City brought on another former Red, Raheem Sterling.

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Zachary Wu, a 23-year-old undergraduate who has supported City since 2009, said: "The Villa back four kept having to shift, I don't think they can sustain this for the full match. We have to get the job done ourselves and not rely on the result at Liverpool."

He was not as optimistic after former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho made it 2-0 for Villa in the 69th minute before being withdrawn to a hero's welcome from Reds fans three minutes later.

"Come on, one goal, we need just one goal, from anybody, Ibrahima Konate, an own goal via anybody's backside, I don't care," said Lim Zhi Qiang, a 40-year-old businessman who has supported Liverpool since 1990, as he cupped his face.

But in six sensational minutes, Ilkay Gundogan's brace which sandwiched Rodri's thunderbolt sealed a fantastic comeback and the EPL title for City, rendering Mohamed Salah and Andy Robertson's goals irrelevant.

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Liverpool fans cheering at Our Tampines Hub, on May 22, 2022. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Wu, who joined the group of 10 City fans in a hearty rendition of Blue Moon, said: "We were dead and buried before Gundogan's first goal. But once City scored, I knew it was possible because we are the best attacking side in the league, and we won the 2012 title with two goals in the last three minutes.

"And I respect Liverpool enough to expect them to win, so we really needed to beat Villa. I'm very happy, but there's also a big sense of relief because the pressure was on us to win."

But Reds fans still have a final to look forward to. A dejected Lim said: "We were always up against it for the past few weeks, but to lose by one City or Villa goal is still hard to stomach. We just have to focus on winning the Champions League final (against Real Madrid) on Saturday."

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