Sunday , June 16 2024

Kelechi Iheanacho Secure Champions League Slot For Man-City

Technically, it isn’t over. There is still a permutation that would leave Pep Guardiola locked outside the Champions League and in this of all seasons it is perhaps wise not to rule it out.

Manchester United need to beat Bournemouth by 19 goals in their delayed 38th match tomorrow. It would be interesting to hear what bookies are quoting for that turnaround — just to see if they regard it as likelier than a Leicester title win.

The handshakes and big grins as Manchester City left the field suggested they are realists, however, and see such a comeback as unlikely. And they are right.

City did enough. Just enough. The bare minimum, really. They will qualify ahead of a United team perceived to be in crisis for much of the season, on goal difference.

Well, whoop-de-do. Condemning United to the Europa League, at best, has some bragging rights attached of course, but it will hardly have been the prize envisaged when City laid out more than £100million on Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling last summer.

De Bruyne began in lively fashion yesterday, but soon faded like his team-mates, and Sterling couldn’t get a game. It wasn’t good enough. The whole season wasn’t good enough. Even the Champions League play-off stage will be new territory for Guardiola. He has never had to pre-qualify.

There are significant names in that part of the draw, too: Villarreal, Porto, Borussia Monchengladbach, Roma. Yet while all have pedigree, none of those squads have been compiled at the enormous expense of Manchester City.

Aguero (right), whose initial shot was saved for Iheanacho's goal, puts his arm around his forward partner after his opening goal

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