London, Jun 25 (efe-epa).- Chelsea defeated Manchester City 2-1 here Thursday to make Liverpool the champions of England’s top flight for the first time in three decades.
The Reds, whose last title win predated the birth of the Premier League, lead second-place City by 23 points with a maximum of 21 points still to be collected in this pandemic-interrupted season.
Liverpool set a new mark by clinching with seven games left to play and are on pace to break the existing PL records for most points and most wins.
City, the two-time defending champions, needed to take all 3 points from Thursday’s contest at Stamford Bridge to delay Liverpool’s coronation.
While the challenge for fourth-place Chelsea was to put distance between themselves and surging Manchester United in the fight for the final Champions League berth.
The Blues were content to concede possession – City played with the ball for 67 percent of the match – and remain alert for chances on the counter.
Chelsea managed to hold the potent City attack to four shots on target, two of them on set pieces.
Fernandinho forced a great stop from Blues goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga with a header off a corner before the hosts opened the scoring in the 36th minute.
The sequence began with a City corner cleared by Chelsea’s Antonio Rüdiger. The visitors looked likely to recover the ball, but Ilkay Gündogan and Benjamin Mendy failed to work out who should do it.
Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic – who played for Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp during the German’s time at the helm of Borussia Dortmund – exploited the moment of indecision to snatch the ball, charge down the pitch and beat City keeper Ederson.
Ten minutes into the second half, the normally reliable N’Golo Kante took a foolish penalty against Riyad Mahrez to hand City a free kick from a dangerous spot.
Kevin de Bruyne scored with an exquisite free kick to level the game at 1-1.
After Raheem Sterling hit the post on a potential go-ahead goal, City defender Kyle Walker had to make a stop against Pulisic on the goal-line after the US international got around Ederson.
With 12 minutes left, Fernandinho blocked two shots from Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham during a mad scramble in the box and a VAR review showed that the second clearance involved a hand ball.
The referee showed Fernandinho a red card and pointed to the spot. Willian converted and the Blues hung on to win 2-1.
Man City remain 8 points ahead of third-place Leicester City, who are on 55 points, just 1 more than Chelsea, while Man United trail the Blues by 5.
Earlier Thursday, Arsenal posted their first win since the Premier League re-start, shutting out Southampton 2-0 to climb to ninth, with 43 points from 31 matches.
The Gunners opened the scoring in the 20th minute courtesy of a spectacular error by Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, who directed a pass to Pierre-Emile Højbjerg just as Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah was barreling toward the area.
Nketiah won the foot-race and nudged the ball into the net for the 1-0.
While the heat – 30C (86F) – took a toll on both sides, Arsenal managed to stay fresher.