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Willian puts away Chelsea's winner from the penalty spot. Photo: Adrian Dennis/Pool via REUTERS

Willian puts away Chelsea's winner from the penalty spot. Photo: Adrian Dennis/Pool via REUTERS

REUTERS

Willian puts away Chelsea's winner from the penalty spot. Photo: Adrian Dennis/Pool via REUTERS

In reality, the crown had slipped long ago.

But as the red side of the Merseyside divide celebrates its first league title in 30 years, the great pity as far as Manchester City are concerned is that the handover of power, when it came last night, came about by their own hand.

A handball, to be exact, on the line, by Fernandinho which led to the penalty that ended City's spell as champions of England, Chelsea's 2-1 win over City a boost for their own top-four hopes.

But this night was way bigger than that, not about Liverpool on the pitch but all about Liverpool at the same time. Frank Lampard's side qualifying for the Champions League shrinks in comparison to the importance of the night for Liverpool, champions without kicking a ball but deserved champions.

Liverpool fans can now enjoy a weekend of arrogant smirks, big smiles and a new-found superiority complex. Whisper it, some Liverpool supporters even wondered if they really wanted City to win at Chelsea last night so Liverpool could extend the chase and then win the league away to City next week.

That really would be a case of knocking someone off their effing perch, winning it on their patch.

We'll never know what sort of fight City would have put up next week if the title was still on the line but this result just puts everyone out of their misery. Including City but especially Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola's initially side seemed to approach their trip to face Chelsea with a shrug of indifference already attached to their frame, no sense of urgency or drive, and once Christian Pulisic scored to put Chelsea 1-0 up on 36 minutes, it looked like game over, title race over, and City's reign of greatness also at an end.

A City side which, under Guardiola, was such a joy to watch in attack for a number of seasons looked incapable of working at the other side of the game last night, a horrid mix-up between Benjamin Mendy and Ilkay G√ľndogan not far from the halfway line leading to the opening goal.

City did have a response, a classy equaliser from Kevin De Bruyne and a close effort from Raheem Sterling.

Then a goal-line block from Kyle Walker kept them in it, but in the end they were undone, the handball by Fernandinho and a penalty scored by a fellow Brazilian, Willian.

Liverpool have a full week to bask in their new-found status as champions and enjoy that view from the perch, for the first time in 30 years.

And after a three-decade wait, every day they spend as champions will be treasured. And deserved.