Source: CNN

The celebrations during Manchester City’s 2-0 win against Tottenham on Tuesday were testament to the importance of the high-stakes match as the reigning champion took a huge step towards a fourth straight English Premier League title.

City now jumps two points ahead of Arsenal at the top of the table, meaning a win in its final game of the season against West Ham would secure the unprecedented feat.

It was Erling Haaland who once again made the difference, with the striker scoring two second-half goals during a cagey game in north London.

Despite the emotional celebrations from both the players and fans after each of the goals, City manager Pep Guardiola said his team knows the job isn’t done yet.

“I like that they were so happy in the locker room but they know it’s not done,” he told reporters. “I didn’t see an extra celebration. They know perfectly it will be tough.

“All we have to do is win that game. To have the chance to live that possibility we are so fortunate.”

There was a strange context surrounding the game before kickoff. Tottenham knew a good result against City would hand fierce rival Arsenal an advantage in the title race, with some fans suggesting the team should try to lose the match.

But Spurs manager Ange Postecoglou seemed irked by such claims and his team showed no signs of letting up on Tuesday night, coming close to snatching a draw.

Unlikely hero

While Haaland will take the plaudits for scoring twice – his first a simple tap-in after 51 minutes – City’s goalkeeper Stefan Ortega was the unlikely hero.

The 31-year-old replaced first-choice keeper Ederson in the second half after the Brazilian suffered a nasty blow to the face and it was a 21-minute cameo to remember.

Ortega first produced a strong front-post save from Dejan Kulusevski after the midfielder had bundled his way through on goal, but then came the potentially title-winning moment.

A rare mistake from Manuel Akanji saw Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min run clean through on goal in the 86th minute. The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium held its breath, expecting the back of the net to bulge given that the South Korean is usually so clinical.

But, just as it looked as though City’s title hopes were about to be handed a major blow, Ortega stuck out a strong right leg to block the striker’s shot.

City manager Guardiola fell to the floor out of sheer relief, while his players celebrated with the goalkeeper.

Moments later, Jérémy Doku was fouled in the box and Haaland smashed home the resulting penalty in the 91st minute to rubber-stamp a vital win for City.

“He [Ortega] defined how the team is a team … The margins are so, so tight,” Guardiola said. “Do you know how many times Son punished us in the last seven or eight years?

“I said: ‘No, not again.’ But Stefan made an incredible save. He has this talent. In one-on-ones, he is one of the best keepers I’ve ever seen in my life.”

City will play West Ham at home on Sunday, knowing that a win will ensure the title once again stays at the Etihad Stadium.

However, if Arsenal drops points at home against Everton in its last game, City will win the league regardless of its result.

No Premier League team has ever won four consecutive league titles, and the achievement would come after City’s treble-winning feat last season.

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