Written by: Samuel Hodgkiss
This week has been pretty mad hasn’t it. As we witnessed the greatest Anfield European night in history, as well as another European miracle and the final fixtures of the Premier League season, the mixture of emotions has been vast.
We kick off the day after Vincent Kompany’s wonder strike against Leicester, as Liverpool would have to bounce back from that moral defeat the night before, as well as 3 goal deficit as they hosted Barcelona in the Champions League Semi-Final 2nd leg at Anfield. With an early goal crucial to helping Liverpool gain momentum and claw back the disadvantage from the Nou Camp the week earlier, their prayers were answered on 7 minutes with Divock Origi slotting home after Sadio Mane pounced on an error by Jordi Alba. Barcelona looked to be getting back into the game in the end of the first-half, however couldn’t get their all- important away goal and the scores remained 1-0 at half-time.
With Luis Suarez forcing Andy Robertson off at half-time through injury, Gini Wijnaldum would replace him and forcing a shuffle in personal. This however would turn out to be a huge blessing in disguise, as Wijnaldum scores 2 goals in 2 minutes on the 54th and 56th minute to level the tie on aggregate, sending the Kop into an absolute frenzy. With Liverpool now all over a shaken Barcelona team, the game was looking more and more likely that Liverpool would qualify, something no one would have believed before kick-off. The miracle was completed on the 79th minute, as Trent Alexander-Arnold’s quick thinking off a corner caught out everyone except Divock Origi, who acted fastest to smash the ball into the top corner, causing absolute limbs all over Anfield. The reds handled Barca’s late onslaught to come out 4-3 winners over both legs, sending Liverpool to their 2nd European Cup Final in 2 years as they travel to Madrid to play either Ajax or Spurs.
After the scenes at Anfield just the day before, Ajax and Spurs would play at the Johan Cruyff Arena with Ajax carrying a 1-0 advantage from the leg prior in London. With the game starting with a quick tempo, it would be off a corner where the first goal was scored, as Matthijs De Ligt smashed the header in on 5 minutes to give Ajax the lead on the night. Things got better and better for Ajax on 35 minutes, as a Kieran Trippier error in the middle of the park allowed Hakim Ziyech to go through and smash the ball into the side netting, leaving Hugo Lloris no chance and all but sealing Spurs’ fate as not quite having enough.
However, if Spurs had to have any example of how they can complete a European comeback, all they had to do was look at the actions from the night before, and it certainly seemed that they did. Lucas Moura took the role of Gini Wijnaldum, scoring twice on the 55th and 59th minute to give them hope and put them within 1 goal of a dream trip to Madrid for the final. It was at this moment that Ajax looked on the ropes but still had great chances to kill the tie off, with Ziyech coming closest on a number of occasions.
Then, in the 95th minute of the game, it would fall to Dele Alli, who played it on to Lucas Moura again who slotted the ball into the corner, making the score 3-2 on the night and giving Spurs the victory on aggregate on away goals. The scenes after the game, as at Anfield, were very emotional and joyous, and for Spurs gave them their 1st European Cup Final in their history, as well as setting up an all-English final!
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Thursday saw the turn of Arsenal and Chelsea to try and get to the Europa League Final in Baku as they faced Valencia and Frankfurt respectively. Arsenal, who won the home leg 3-1 last week, would progress in some style, as they won the away leg in Valencia 4-2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a Hat-Trick on the night and looks in incredible form going into the final stages of the season. As for Chelsea, it took penalties for them to qualify for the final, as they drew the 2nd leg 1-1, the same result as the reverse fixture last week.
This forced penalties, and it was Eden Hazard who slotted the winning penalty to give Chelsea a 4-3 penalty victory and send them to Baku. This means that the Europa League will also be an all-English final, meaning it will be the 1st time in history that all the 4 European finalists will come from the same country, England. The journey for Arsenal and Chelsea fans will be a difficult one, as although their grounds are only 8 miles apart, it will be a 5,000-mile round-trip for their fans to reach the game to see their teams in the final.
Sunday was the final weekend of the Premier League for this season, as Manchester City and Liverpool have a chance of getting their hands on the Premier League. Liverpool entertained Wolves whilst City travelled to Brighton, as it was must-win for both teams if they wanted to seal the league. It would be Liverpool who opened the scoring at Anfield on 17 minutes as Alexander-Arnold assisted Mane for a tap-in at the Kop End to put pressure on City to score, as Liverpool sat at the top as things stood.
This goal seemed to work in putting City under pressure, as Glenn Murray scored from a corner on the 27th minute, further cementing Liverpool’s spot on top. This Brighton lead however would be short lived, as Sergio Aguero scored just 83 seconds later to level the game. City would then go into the lead 10 minutes later, as Aymeric Laporte connected with a header off a corner to regain City’s lead at the top of the table.
In the second-half, it would again be City who scored as Riyad Mahrez slotted away a fantastic strike into the top corner, giving City the cushion they needed and almost certainly had 1 hand on the trophy this moment in time. City would then guarantee the Premier League after Ilkay Gundogan added a 4th from a free-kick, whilst back at Anfield, Mane added a 2nd for Liverpool in what would be a consolation goal in terms of the Premier League, but on the day sealed a win over Wolves.
The results ended as they were which crowned Manchester City as Premier League Champions of the 2018/19 Season.
As for the other results on Sunday, Spurs ended their domestic season with a 2-2 draw at home to Everton, however I imagine they were still somewhat hungover from Wednesday and already have one eye on Madrid. Europa League finalists Chelsea drew away 0-0 at Leicester City, whilst Arsenal beat Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moor. As for 6th place Manchester United, they were defeated at Old Trafford by relegated Cardiff City, leaving Ole wounded at the wheel as he finally managed to give Cardiff a good result!
Furthermore, Watford lost at home 4-1 to West Ham, Newcastle travelled to Fulham and left the banks of the Thames 4-0 winners, Crystal Palace beat Bournemouth in a high-scoring 5-3 game at Selhurst Park, and finally Southampton drew at home to Huddersfield 1-1.
After the game at the AMEX, Chris Hughton was congratulated by Pep Guardiola for his achievements with his team this season. However, today it was announced that Brighton has sacked the manager after almost 5 years at the club. With Brighton finishing 17th and remaining in the Premier League for a second consecutive season, as well as an FA Cup Semi-Final this season, it surprises me as to why Brighton have made this decision. You could argue the case that recently black managers have not be given an equal chance in their jobs, as seen with Darren Moore at West Brom, however this may be an argument for another time.
As the Premier League is now over, the only domestic game left is the FA Cup Final, where City will face Watford as they look for the treble, whilst Watford look to secure a Europa League spot with victory at Wembley next weekend.
Written by: Samuel Hodgkiss