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The Manchester City squad pose for pictures with the Premiership trophy after their victory during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on May 11. (AFP)
Manchester City clinch EPL title Schurrle fuels Chelsea revival as United miss out on Europe

LONDON, May 11, 2014 (AFP): Manchester City secured a second Premier League title in three seasons by comfortably defeating West Ham United 2-0 at a jubilant Etihad Stadium on Sunday. City effectively needed only a point to claim the championship ahead of Liverpool, but goals in each half from Samir Nasri and captain Vincent Kompany meant that they completed their mission with room to spare. The result took City’s goals tally to 102 — one short of Chelsea’s Premier League record from 2009-10 — and made Chilean Manuel Pellegrini the first non-European manager to win an English top-flight title. “I think that I manage a great group of players, a great institution and great fans,” said Pellegrini. “I must be calm during the game to take decisions but when you achieve the title, I think the whole year shows a lot of work we did at difficult moments in the year and I think this is the best team in the league.”

Liverpool, who led the table with three games to play, finished two points below City in second place after coming from behind to win 2-1 at home to Newcastle United, who had Shola Ameobi and Paul Dummett sent off. David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Aleksandar Kolarov all threatened for City before Nasri put them ahead in the 39th minute, gathering a pass from Yaya Toure and arrowing a 22-yard drive into the bottom-left corner. West Ham striker Andy Carroll deflected a shot from Silva onto the post in first-half stoppage time, before Kompany doubled City’s lead early in the second half by stabbing in from a corner. The home fans celebrated with their customary ‘Poznan’ dance — bouncing up and down with their backs to the game — and then flooded onto the pitch in delight at the final whistle.

“Forget about the money and everything,” Kompany told Sky Sports after hoisting the trophy aloft beneath a flurry of blue and white tickertape. “As a kid, you grow up and dream of lifting trophies. I feel like I am living that dream when I do this.” Liverpool went into their game against Newcastle with a slim hope of winning a first league title since 1990, but they fell behind in the 20th minute when Martin Skrtel sliced Yoan Gouffran’s cross into his own net. However, carbon-copy goals by Daniel Agger and Daniel Sturridge, both of whom volleyed in Steven Gerrard free-kicks, turned the game around in the space of two minutes in the second half. Agger’s goal was Liverpool’s 100th in the league and made this the first English top-flight season in which two teams have reached that milestone since 1960-61.

“It’s been an incredible journey this year, so to finish with 12 wins out of 14 is an incredible achievement by the players,” said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers. “We’ve made the supporters dream and that is our job to do that.” Tottenham Hotspur secured the last available Europa League berth by crushing Aston Villa 3-0 through a Paulinho strike, a Nathan Baker own goal and an Emmanuel Adebayor penalty, all of which arrived before half-time. Spurs’ victory means that Manchester United will not play in Europe next season for the first time since 1989-90.

United drew 1-1 at Southampton in Ryan Giggs’s final game as interim manager, which saw last season’s champions finish 22 points below cross-town rivals City in seventh place after a miserable campaign. United captain Nemanja Vidic, playing his last game for the club, was left with a bloodied nose by Ricky Lambert as the Southampton striker put the hosts in front in the 28th minute. Juan Mata equalised for United with a sumptuous free-kick early in the second half. “It’s been an experience with ups and downs,” said Giggs. “I’ve enjoyed it and I didn’t want the second half to end. The fans were great and the players were great and I loved it.”

Norwich City’s relegation was confirmed after they lost 2-0 at home to Arsenal, although they were already practically assured of joining Fulham and Cardiff City in the Championship. Aaron Ramsey’s sublime 53rd-minute volley put Arsenal ahead, with Carl Jenkinson adding a second goal shortly after. Arsenal’s FA Cup final opponents Hull City finished the campaign by losing 2-0 at home to fifth-place Everton, who prevailed through goals from James McCarthy and Romelu Lukaku. Third-place Chelsea, meanwhile, came from behind to win 2-1 at relegated Cardiff, with Andre Schurrle and Fernando Torres securing victory after Craig Bellamy had put the Welsh club ahead. Ashley Cole, whose contract is due to expire, captained Chelsea on what may have been his last appearance. Elsewhere, Swansea City spoilt Sunderland’s survival party with a 3-1 win at the Stadium of Light, while Stoke City won 2-1 at West Bromwich Albion and Fulham drew 2-2 at home to Crystal Palace.

Final Standings
    P    W    P    L    GF    GA    Pts
Man City    38    27    5    6    102    37    86
Liverpool    38    26    6    6    101    50    84
Chelsea    38    25    7    6    71    27    82
Arsenal    38    24    7    7    68    41    79
Everton    38    21    9    8    61    39    72
Tottenham    38    21    6    11    55    51    69
Man Utd    38    19    7    12    64    43    64
Southampton    38    15    11    12    54    46    56
Stoke    38    13    11    14    45    52    50
Newcastle    38    15    4    19    43    59    49
Crystal Palace    38    13    6    19    33    48    45
Swansea    38    11    9    18    54    54    42
West Ham    38    11    7    20    40    51    40
Sunderland    38    10    8    20    41    60    38
Aston Villa    38    10    8    20    39    61    38
Hull    38    10    7    21    38    53    37
West Brom    38    7    15    16    43    59    36

Relegated
Norwich    38    8    9    21    28    62    33
Fulham    38    9    5    24    40    85    32
Cardiff    38    7    9    22    32    74    30
Note 1: Top four teams qualify for next season’s Champions League; teams finishing fifth and sixth qualify for Europa League; bottom three teams relegated to Championship.
Note 2: Standings read as played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against & points.

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