Ilkay Gundogan’s game-changing introduction against Aston Villa has been hailed as “one of the greatest substitutions in Premier League history” after Manchester City won the title in the most dramatic of circumstances.
The Premier League crown looked to be slipping out of the grasp of the Blues as they fell 2-0 down at home to Aston Villa, with goals from Matty Cash and Philippe Coutinho threatening to spoil the party at the Etihad. Although they remained ahead of Liverpool in the table at that point, it looked increasingly likely that City would have to rely on a favour from Wolves in order to become champions.
But Gundogan’s introduction swung the race back in City’s favour in dramatic fashion. The midfielder had been introduced just moments before Coutinho doubled Villa’s lead, and he proved to be the difference as City claimed their fourth title in five years.
The 31-year-old struck his first with around 15 minutes to go to halve the deficit before Rodri brought the hosts back level. At that stage, Liverpool remained just one goal away from snatching the title away, but just moments later, City’s comeback was complete.
Gundogan was once again on the mark to tuck home the third and set the Blues on their way to another title. Although Liverpool secured a 3-1 win at Anfield, they couldn’t do anything to prevent City from being crowned champions.
And it was Gundogan who received all the plaudits for his impact. Sky Sports pundits hailed the decision of Pep Guardiola to introduce the German international.
“I think it’s one of the great substitutions in Premier League history, bringing on Gundogan,” Jamie Redknapp said. “I think all three of us thought he might bring on Jack Grealish, he didn’t. He brought on someone who was so calm, so assured. Two really good finishes, he sniffed them out.”
Roy Keane added: “It was a huge decision but it’s great when you’ve got them options off the bench. What a substitution. Credit to the manager and credit to the player for getting up to speed.”