Another Premier League trophy was virtually in Manchester City’s hands. All it needed was Riyad Mahrez to convert a penalty, like he had done in each of his previous seven attempts from the spot this season.
Not this time.
There’s still plenty of life in this absorbing title race after Mahrez had a penalty saved in the 86th minute, leaving City to settle for a 2-2 draw at West Ham on Sunday and a four-point lead over Liverpool heading into the final week of the season.
Liverpool heads to Southampton for its game in hand on Tuesday, needing at least a point to take the title race to Sunday — the last day of the season. A win is probably required, though, given City has a superior goal difference of 7 compared to Liverpool.
City finishes at home to Aston Villa and that throws up an intriguing storyline. Villa is coached by Liverpool great Steven Gerrard, who was never able to win the league for Liverpool. He still could — but as a manager of another team.
Liverpool hosts Wolverhampton in its last game and still, somehow, retains hope of an unprecedented quadruple of major trophies having won both domestic cups and reached the Champions League final.
It could have basically been over by now, however, had Mahrez put his spot kick past Fabianski.
Guardiola hardly flinched when Fabianski dived to his left and clawed away the penalty, which was at an inviting height for a goalkeeper. After a few seconds, Guardiola scratched the side of his head and rubbed his face, and didn’t appear too disheartened at the final whistle as he shared an embrace with Mark Noble — West Ham’s long-serving midfielder who is retiring at the end of the season and was making his final home appearance for the club.
It’s just as tense at the other end of the standings, though Leeds provided a twist in the relegation fight.
Leeds scored in the second minute of stoppage time through Pascal Struijk to salvage a 1-1 draw against Brighton and move out of the relegation zone at Burnley’s expense.
Burnley lost 1-0 at Tottenham a few hours earlier — Harry Kane scored the winner from the penalty spot — and dropped into third-to-last place, one point behind Leeds.
That left Everton with the chance to guarantee top-flight survival by beating Brentford, only to lose 3-2 after having defender Jarrad Branthwaite sent off in the 18th minute — when Everton was leading 1-0 — and then substitute Salomon Rondon red-carded in the 88th.
Richarlison had reclaimed the lead for Everton with a penalty in first-half stoppage time, but Brentford replied with two goals in two minutes from the 62nd.
Everton stayed on 36 points, with Leeds on 35 and Burnley on 34.
Everton and Burnley have two games left and Leeds has just one.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFICATION
The race for Champions League qualification is heading for the final day, too, with Tottenham climbing into fourth place — two points ahead of north London rival Arsenal — by beating Burnley.
Kane grabbed what proved to be the winning goal in the eighth minute of first-half stoppage time, converting from the spot after the ball struck the outstretched arm of Burnley striker Ashley Barnes following a flick by Tottenham defender Davinson Sanchez.
Mikel Arteta’s team has two games remaining compared to Tottenham’s one, the first coming at Newcastle on Monday.
Tottenham finishes the season at Norwich, while Arsenal hosts Everton.
Team P GD Pts
Man City 37 72 90
Liverpool 36 65 86
Chelsea 36 42 70
Tottenham 37 24 68
Arsenal 36 11 66
Man Utd 37 1 58
West Ham 37 11 56
Wolves 37 -3 51
Leicester 36 0 48
Brighton 37 -4 48