Chelsea forced Manchester City to put their Premier League title party on hold on Saturday, winning 2-1 as Sergio Aguero came to rue a Panenka penalty gone horribly wrong.
Victory would have seen Pep Guardiola’s men confirmed as English champions for the third time in four years but they must wait for their inevitable coronation.
Raheem Sterling gave City the lead at the empty Etihad Stadium but Hakim Ziyech levelled and Marcos Alonso grabbed the winner in the dying seconds.
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Sergio Aguero could have made his side’s task much easier on the stroke of half-time but saw his casual Panenka spot-kick easily saved by Edouard Mendy, with Guardiola turning away in frustration.
“I was cringing in here. I thought he was just going to slot it home,” former City great Micah Richards told Sky Sports at halftime.
“He looks over at the manager, like a naughty boy at school looking to the teacher,” added Jamie Redknapp.
Aguero took to social media post-game to apologise for the miss.
“I would like to apologise to my teammates, staff and supporters for missing the penalty. It was a bad decision and I take full responsibility,” he wrote.
On the missed spot-kick, Guardiola said: “I have always said to him (Aguero), take one decision and take it full convincing, so he decided to do it this way. I have nothing to add.”
When asked if Aguero was selfish by the way he took the penalty, the Manchester City boss added: “He is selfish because he misses. If he scores he is a genius. That is the reality.”
The three points lift the Londoners into third spot, six clear of fifth-placed West Ham with just three games left for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
Elsewhere, Tottenham’s 3-1 defeat to Leeds was a hammer blow in their attempt to finish in the top four while Liverpool hosted Southampton in the late match, still harbouring hopes that they can secure a Champions League spot.
Guardiola was frustrated at the manner of his side’s defeat — just their fifth loss of the season — but they have a huge 13-point lead over second-placed Manchester United.
“We missed our chance in the last minute of the first half for the penalty, but we were in a good position,” he told Sky Sports.
“We conceded a goal, suffered for 15 minutes, then reacted well, but in the end they scored.”
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Tuchel’s in-form team ended City’s dreams of a historic quadruple by beating them in the FA Cup semi-final last month and they once more proved tricky opponents.
Guardiola made nine changes from the side that saw off Paris Saint-Germain in midweek while Chelsea made five changes following their triumph over Real Madrid.
Raheem Sterling was booked in the 12th minute after catching Timo Werner with his studs but the punishment could have been worse.
Clear-cut chances were at a premium but as the half-time break loomed City broke the deadlock.
Gabriel Jesus shrugged off Andreas Christensen to break into the area. He squared, looking for Aguero. The Argentine’s touch was poor but Sterling was on hand to tuck home.
City should have gone into the half-time break two goals in front after Jesus won a spot kick when he was bundled over by Billy Gilmour but Aguero squandered the chance.
As the second half wore on the visitors started to establish a foothold and they equalised just after the hour when Rodri lost possession on the halfway line.
The visitors broke down the right and Cesar Azpilicueta picked out Ziyech just outside the area. The Moroccan drilled a low shot into the bottom corner.
The finish was frantic. Chelsea substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi had a goal ruled out for a marginal offside before Sterling had a penalty appeal turned down.
Alonso slotted home the winner in stoppage time after Werner pulled the ball back into the six-yard box to complete the turnaround.
Tuchel admitted the match could have had a different complexion if Aguero had converted from the spot.
“If they score the penalty maybe it is over before it starts, at 2-0 you have no chance to come back,” the Chelsea boss said.
“I was impressed by the reaction and the performance in the second half. If you want to steal all three points here after being down, you need a bit of luck, decisions from the referee.”
City could be crowned champions before they play again. Manchester United face three matches before Guardiola’s men are next in action, against Newcastle on Friday.
Earlier, Crystal Palace beat already relegated Sheffield United 2-0.
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