Gabriel Jesus crowned the champions’ triumphant Premier League season with a jubilant stoppage-time winner at Southampton
Pep Guardiola admitted he was dumbstruck after Manchester City finished their title-winning season with a record-breaking 100 Premier League points.
Brazil striker Jesus latched on to Kevin De Bruyne’s excellent raking pass in the 93rd minute at St Mary’s to ensure City became the first team in English top-flight history to reach three figures.
It also surpassed Guardiola’s previous season best of 99 points with Barcelona in 2009-10, while City set Premier League bests in terms of wins (32), away wins (16), goal difference (+79) and goals (106) and the most matches won in succession (18).
“It’s 100 points… still I cannot believe it,” the Catalan told a post-match news conference. “In the Premier League 100 points is a massive achievement.
“We had to play for something. The game was so complicated, tough and hot. The opponent’s physicality and their three at the back.
“Our rhythm was not so high but during the game we were focused and at the end the excellent pass from Kevin and amazing finish from Gabriel made the difference to achieve that.
“One hundred points is a lot – 50 points at home, 50 points away. It shows how stable and how good we were all the season.”
But beyond City’s impressive numbers, Guardiola takes the most pride from the irresistible style in which his team have racked up their achievements.
“My favourite is the way we played. You cannot achieve 100 points if you drop games and think it doesn’t matter,” he said.
“Once again our consistency showed up today. Wins at home, wins away – everything was perfect this season and we finished the way we deserved to finish.”
Jesus’ late salvo came exactly six years on from Sergio Aguero’s unforgettable injury-time winner against QPR to snatch the title in 2012.
Although the opponents were a Mark Hughes team once again, the nature of this triumph could not be more far removed – even if late winners earlier in the season from Raheem Sterling against Bournemouth, Southampton and Huddersfield Town became one of the symbols of City’s success.
“The important thing is in the games we tried, we tried, we tried,” Guardiola added. “I know you need some luck to score these type of goals but we tried.
“Sometimes, the guys who try to win, you have your reward.”
Opposite number Hughes felt that reward might have been Southampton’s after Wesley Hoedt hit the bar and Dusan Tadic saw Fernandinho clear his shot off the line 12 minutes from time.
Nevertheless, securing Premier League status for next season meant it was a case of “job done”.
“I should give myself a shake really – I’m a little bit flat because I thought we should have won the game against the champions,” Hughes told reporters.
“We ended up losing a game I thought we possibly should have won but the bigger picture, clearly, was to make sure we got the job done. It would have been easy to take our eye off the ball after [beating Swansea] on Tuesday night.
“We put in a fantastic, professional performance.”