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Manchester City and Liverpool’s epic title race was decided by millimetres and seconds

Eighty-three seconds; that’s all they had. For just under one and a half minutes, Liverpool and their supporters allowed hope to turn into belief that a 29-year wait to be champions of England would come to an end on the final day of the Premier League season.

Having taken a 17th-minute lead against Wolves at Anfield through Sadio Mane, news came through that Glenn Murray had headed Brighton in front against Manchester City at the Amex Stadium. A murmur went around Anfield before turning into a deafening roar.

At first, though, it was a false dawn. In the modern era of instant news on social media, the phenomenon of misheard score lines and false alarms about goals should be a thing of the past, but Liverpool fans repeatedly jumped up and celebrated wildly, under the incorrect impression their title rivals were trailing.

Moments later, though, a second ripple became a crescendo of noise. Brighton had scored and The Kop erupted. Flares were lit and songs were sung; the title was finally within Liverpool’s grasp. Some 215 miles south, Pep Guardiola removed his grey coat as his agitation grew.

For Liverpool to win their first title since 1990, they needed to win their game and hope for City to slip up. Nobody really believed it would happen — Guardiola’s men had not even fallen behind in a league game since losing at Newcastle in January — but on the very last day of the season, it was happening.

Fate? Maybe it was on Liverpool’s side. Maybe that incredible 4-0 Champions League semifinal second leg victory against Barcelona last Tuesday was merely the precursor to the main event five days later.

But within 83 seconds of Murray’s goal, Sergio Aguero levelled for City and the elation gave way to deflation inside Anfield. At that stage, with Liverpool winning and City drawing, Jurgen Klopp’s team were still on course to end the day as champions.

Liverpool supporters knew, though. A lull descended over the stadium, punctured only by the Wolves fans celebrating. More City goals were inevitable and so it proved. Aymeric Laporte made it 2-1 with a storming header eight minutes before half-time, then Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan completed City’s emphatic victory in the second period.

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