All you need to know about Chelsea’s 2-1 win over 10-man Manchester City — which clinched the title for Liverpool — in the Premier League Thursday in quickie form, complete with Bay State Soccer Sentinel insight and analysis:
Liverpool are the champions thanks to Chelsea downing City: For the first time in 30 years — 1990! — Liverpool FC are the champions of the English top flight. With the Reds’ 4-0 win over Crystal Palace at Anfield on Wednesday, the scene shifted to Stamford Bridge in West London 24 hours later where if Manchester City failed to beat Chelsea, the race for the title was over with seven matches to go. And while two-time champion Manchester City was on the front foot for a good portion of the match, it was Chelsea coming on top thanks to a goal by Christian Pulisic and a late penalty by Willian, the penalty coming after Fernandinho handled a ball off the line. Chelsea’s win gave the Blues space on both Manchester United and Wolves, further holding onto a Champions League berth for 2020-21. Liverpool has a 23-point lead on Manchester City through 31 matches, and that is enough for the Reds’ 19th top flight title.
Pulisic gets the start, puts Blues ahead: Pennsylvania’s Christian Pulisic, who scored over the weekend for Chelsea in the Blues’ 2-1 win over Aston Villa, got the start at Stamford Bridge Thursday — like we had argued Sunday — and he scored on a sweet counterattack in the 36th minute. His first touch to break around the last City defender — Benjamin Mendy — was brilliant, the finish cool, calm, and collected. The goal was his eighth of the season, and he nearly had a ninth in the second half — but Kyle Walker dramatically cleared him off the line in the 71st minute.
City controlled the first half: That Pulisic goal certainly came against the run of play as Manchester City controlled the tempo with 64 percent of the ball. City played inspired offensively, but Chelsea’s defending was up to the challenge. Not only that, Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga had a couple of big saves in the first 45 minutes to keep the former title holders at bay.
De Bruyne free kick pulls City level to start a wild second half: Nine minutes after the restart, Kevin de Bruyne blasted a hummer of a free kick from 25 yards out, right to the Upper 90. Arrizabalaga had no chance, and it was level. Two minutes later, Raheem Sterling had a beautiful chance to chip Kepa, but his try clanged the woodwork. After Pulisic was cleared off the line, Emerson had a double save on Chelsea in the 76th, as well as a handle by Fernandinho; he was sent off for DOGSO, and a penalty awarded. Willian stutter-stepped and buried the resulting pen, giving Chelsea a 2-1 lead, the three points — and Liverpool the trophy.
WHO’S HOT, WHO’S NOT
Christian Pulisic, Chelsea: Really no doubt of this. The Hershey, Pa. native and US international midfielder scored his second goal in as many games after injury, and nearly had a third in the second half. Also go back and watch when Chelsea were in attack: the way he switched the point of the attack came with such power. Now if Gregg Berhalter could channel that in the US men’s attack.
Kevin de Bruyne, Manchester City: Another no doubter, and de Bruyne is really adding fuel to the fire. He is one of the best midfielders in the world, bar none.
Fernandinho, Manchester City: Not good to be sent off in such an important game.
LET’S TALK ABOUT STATS, BABY
Chelsea have not lost a game at home when leading at the interval in nine years. Dominant.
Thursday was the sixth time that Fernandinho has seen red as a member of City.
WHAT SWEENS REALLY THINKS RIGHT NOW
New York Rangers. Red Sox. White Sox. Cleveland Cavaliers. Chicago Cubs.
Party on, Kopites.
THEY SAID IT
“This was a season for the ages and for the faithful of Liverpool Football Club. It has been an incredible year of magnificent achievement culminating tonight in capturing the Premier League title.” — Liverpool/Red Sox owner John W. Henry
“It’s unbelievable.” — Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp