LONDON: Manchester City are within easy reach of the Premier League title after Sergio Aguero and Ferran Torres sealed a 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola’s side are 13 points clear at the top and will be crowned champions if runner-up Manchester United lose to Liverpool on Sunday.
After a lukewarm first half in south London, it was fitting that Aguero – the architect of so many great moments in City history – opened the scoring with a typically deadly finish.
Torres killed Palace two minutes later as City clinched an 11th consecutive away Premier League win, tying England’s top-flight record.
Even if United don’t slide against Liverpool at Old Trafford, City have four games to go to secure the one win they need to clinch the title, starting with next Saturday’s home game against Chelsea.
It comes down to when City add the Premier League to the League Cup they won against Tottenham in April.
“We can start to think about it and put it in the fridge. The Premier League is already here, it is in our hands. We need one more victory, ”said Guardiola.
“I am absolutely delighted after the Champions League. We couldn’t play with a lot of rhythm. We struggled a bit but in the second half we deserved it.
“I want to check out the Liverpool game. It’s in our hands and now we’ll give everything to beat PSG. “
City languished in 14th place at the end of November, but a meteoric run since then has led them to the brink of a third title in four seasons.
The triple pursuers could also add the Champions League to this course.
On Tuesday, City will try to reach their first-ever Champions League final by defending a 2-1 semi-final second leg lead against Paris Saint Germain.
It was City’s sixth consecutive game away from the Etihad Stadium and by the time they return to Manchester to play for PSG they will have covered more than 3,500 miles on the road in just three weeks.
Guardiola believes the grueling schedule has made City’s success this season “very special” and the victory was another tribute to their tenacious attitude.
The City boss has made eight changes since the midweek victory in Paris, with only Ederson, Rodri and Joao Cancelo keeping their places as Aguero, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling arrived.
Aguero was just making his sixth league start in an injury-ridden season for the record-breaking City scorer, who announced he would leave this summer.
All of the changes left City looking disjointed in a rambling first half.
Ederson had to make a superb save to maintain City’s level when he stretched to block Christian Benteke’s close effort with his legs.
It was the first time in 21 games that City had failed to get on target in the first half.
But City are too powerful to be submissive for long and they played much more intensely after the interval.
Aguero had been anonymous for long periods of time, but he rolled back the years to break the deadlock in the 57th minute.
Running on Mendy’s pass, Aguero took a touch inside the palace area before breaking a half volley into the roof of the net from 10 yards.
“What a goal, what an action, what a player, what a man. I am incredibly delighted that he is back, ”said Guardiola.
“He’s going to enjoy the last few games. I am in love as a person. He’s an amazing guy. “
Aguero’s fourth goal of the season – his 258th for the club – put City back on track and Torres doubled the lead 84 seconds later.
Aguero, Jesus and Sterling exchanged a flurry of passes, kicking off Torres for a nice low finish from the edge of the zone.
Guardiola’s cheerful celebration underscored the magnitude of the moment as City approached their final title triumph.