Man City ends title-winning campaign with loss at Brentford in Premier League
LONDON (AP) — Premier League champion Manchester City lost its final game of the campaign as Ethan Pinnock's late goal earned Brentford a 1-0 win and a home-and-away double over Pep Guardiola's team on Sunday.
The center back celebrated signing a new four-year contract earlier in the day by scoring an 85th-minute winner.
With the title sewn up last weekend, Guardiola rested some of his big hitters ahead of next weekend’s FA Cup final. The Champions League final is seven days later for City.
With Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish missing completely and Erling Haaland left on the bench, it was a scratch City side and those established stars who did play, like Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez, had little impact.
Guardiola said he wasn't sure if De Bruyne, Grealish and center back Ruben Dias will be fit for the FA Cup final.
“Ruben, Jack and Kevin couldn’t play. It is what it is. I think they will be ready but it’s hard to get ready in training," Guardiola said. "That’s why I had to see the players who played today.”
Guardiola felt his team would have played better if City needed to win.
“I don’t have any complaints of how we behaved," he said. "I said to the players just now, ‘You won the title, enjoy two days with your families and then we will prepare for the first final.'
“The guys who didn’t play who normally play were exhausted yesterday, mentally completely drained. They needed to rest to arrive with the right energy to face United.”
Brentford still had something to play for, by contrast, as the team was in with a slim chance of qualifying for the Europa Conference League before wins for Tottenham and Aston Villa ultimately wrecked those hopes.
The home players applauded the champions onto the field, but that was as far as the respect stretched.
The Bees may still be adjusting to life without suspended striker Ivan Toney but they remain a potent threat, with Yoane Wissa beating City goalkeeper Ederson with a curler against the far post before an offside flag was raised.
Brentford goalkeeper David Raya, who looks destined to leave the club this summer, had to make an early diving save to deny Cole Palmer before Kalvin Phillips, getting another run-out in a midfield three alongside Palmer and Rico Lewis, sent a low shot wide.
Emerson saved well from Vitaly Janelt’s snap-shot at a corner as Brentford pressed, and the German midfielder lifted another effort over the crossbar.
After the break, Brentford, which won at Etihad Stadium in November, felt it should have had a penalty after Lewis slid in on Ben Mee.
But referee John Brooks waved away the appeals and then booked Bees head coach Thomas Frank for his protests.
By now, City's players well and truly had their eye on the bigger battles to come, but the Bees kept driving forward and Frank Onyeka’s drive flew over before Bryan Mbeumo just failed to get a touch on to Janelt’s chip into the area.
The winner came from a cross by substitute Kevin Schade, which was headed back across goal by Mbeumo and emphatically finished by Pinnock.
City briefly woke up and Raya somehow denied Palmer an equalizer from close range.
Defeat meant City did not break the 90-point mark for a record fourth time in the Premier League.
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