City all-but secure Champions League spot
City will have to wait to have Champions League qualification officially confirmed after drawing 1-1 with Swansea.
Mathematically, Manchester United could still finish in fourth spot, but would require a 19-goal victory over Bournemouth when the fixture is eventually re-arranged.
It was a far from convincing display, but it seems almost certain the Blues will be playing in Europe’s elite competition yet again next season.
It was a strange afternoon in many ways, not least because the envisaged head-to-head between City and United never materialised due to the Reds’ game being postponed because of a major security alert.
The Blues still had an important job to do whereas Swansea had little other than pride to play for. In bright South Wales sunshine, City were the more purposeful from the kick-off and quickly went ahead on five minutes as Sergio Aguero’s low shot was blocked and Kelechi Iheanacho was on hand to poke home his 14th goal of the season. There was a moment when it seemed the strike had been ruled out, but referee Mike Dean was merely telling the City players not to milk their celebrations.Three minutes later and the Swans thought they’d levelled as a ball came into the box and Bacary Sagna bundled the ball past Joe Hart – but the referee decided Jefferson Montero had pushed the City defender and the goal was ruled out.Thereafter, the Blues were totally dominant with chance after chance spurned. Iheanacho, Aguero and Jesus Navas all went close when it seemed the second goal must arrive sooner rather than later, but as some of defending become untidy, a succession of free-kicks for the hosts offered a way back into the game. It was the last of the first-half infringements on the edge of the box that proved the most costly with Swansea levelling in added time as Andre Ayew’s shot struck Fernando’s head and wrong-footed Hart to level the scores. It was harsh on the Blues, but it was the price of profligacy in front of goal at the other end.City came out after the break and resumed control, almost taking the lead on 52 minutes when Jesus Navas’ low cross struck the foot of the post and it seemed Iheanacho would strike the rebound home – but he got his feet in a tangle and the chance was gone.Then Aguero dragged a shot wide after picking up the ball on the edge of the box as the Blues’ missed chances tally continued to rack up. Iheanacho and Fernandinho wasted more opportunities with uncharacteristically poor finishes with City’s shooting Satnav continuing to misfire meaning more bitten fingernails for the travelling Blues as the game edged towards full-time.As it was, there were no last-gasp scares and Swansea would have been fortunate to have won this game – so it is (almost) job done for City who end Manuel Pellegrini’s reign having taken the point needed.And the Chilean threw his suit jacket into the crowd as the traveling fans gave the outgoing boss a fitting send-off.
MATCH DETAILS: Swansea City (1): Nordfeldt, Rangel, Fernandez, Amat, Kingsley, Britton, Cork, Fer, Routledge (Barrow 58), Montero (Gomis 82), Ayew Manchester City (1): Hart, Sagna, Otamendi, Mangala, Clichy, Fernando, Fernandinho, Navas, De Bruyne, Iheanacho (Nasri 72), Aguero (Yaya Toure 90) Goals: Iheanacho 5, Ayew 45+1
Referee: Mike Dean. Bookings: Britton, Iheanacho, Otamendi, Sagna