Manchester City’s Premier League title celebrations were halted once more on Sunday, when Manchester United rallied to win 3-1 at Aston Villa.
Pep Guardiola’s team blew an opportunity to clinch the title when they were defeated 2-1 by Chelsea on Saturday.
If second-placed Manchester United had lost at Villa Park, City may have begun the celebrations, but their arch-rivals stopped the leaders’ champagne on ice with a second-half escape act.
After falling behind to Bertrand Traore’s first-half missile, United equalized by Bruno Fernandes’ penalty, before Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani scored to frustrate City.
When asked whether he was happy to make City wait, Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replied: “That’s the best part. At the very least, we won’t be driving into a blue army tonight. We’ll continue to postpone it as much as possible.”
With three games remaining, City has a 10-point lead over United, which has four games remaining.
United play Leicester on Tuesday and Liverpool on Thursday, with a loss in each of those games ensuring City’s crown, who play Newcastle on Friday.
The Europa League finalists would like to keep City waiting as long as possible in their quest to finish second.
However, City’s blistering form after the new year has turned the title race into a parade, and it is only a matter of time before their coronation is confirmed.
Because of United’s new show of fortitude, they will have to wait at least another 48 hours.
Traore gave Villa the lead in the 24th minute, twisting in the penalty area and shrugging off Victor Lindelof before slamming a spectacular shot into the top corner from an acute angle.
However, Solskjaer’s side has been a master of second-half comebacks this season, and Paul Pogba secured a penalty in the 52nd minute when Douglas Luiz bundled over the United midfielder.
Sergio Aguero of Manchester City had missed a penalty against Chelsea with a reckless ‘Panenka’ chipped shot, but Fernandes was even more clinical, sending Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez the wrong way from the spot.
Greenwood put United ahead four minutes later, swiveling past Tyrone Mings on the edge of the box and driving a low finish past Martinez’s feeble save.
United took a setback when captain Harry Maguire hobbled off after colliding with Anwar El Ghazi.
Cavani, however, sealed the victory in the 87th minute with a glancing header from Marcus Rashford’s cross.
They sent villa striker Ollie Watkins off with a second booking minutes later after diving to secure a penalty.