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Swansea City 1 Manchester City 1: Pellegrini signs off by securing Champions League place

Manchester City scraped into next season’s Champions League courtesy of a 1-1 draw at Swansea City to secure fourth place in the Premier League.

The expected final-day battle between City and Manchester United did not materialise as their rivals’ match against AFC Bournemouth was abandoned after a suspicious package was discovered at Old Trafford.

Barring an improbable 19-goal victory when that match is rescheduled, United are now unable to finish above their neighbours due to a vastly inferior goal difference.

Kelechi Iheanacho gave Manuel Pellegrini’s team an early lead, but, in the City manager’s final match before making way for Pep Guardiola, he endured a familiar tale of wasted chances within a patchy performance – the kind of display that has turned a campaign that promised so much into a gruelling slog for the one-time title favourites.

Andre Ayew’s 12th Premier League goal this term came via a deflected free-kick in first-half stoppage time and Swansea end the season in 12th, looking forward to an extended spell under Francesco Guidolin after their boss penned a two-year contract extension this week.

Ki Sung-yueng’s absence due to military service in his native South Korea contributed to Swansea making four changes to the XI that beat West Ham 4-1 last weekend, while Manchester City were unchanged.

Kristoffer Nordfeldt kept out a fifth-minute shot from Sergio Aguero, but the home goalkeeper, making his Premier League debut, was powerless to stop Iheanacho from turning in the rebound – the goal eventually awarded after referee Mike Dean and his assistant ruled the Nigeria striker was onside.

Swansea briefly thought they were level through Jefferson Montero, although the winger was penalised for shoving Bacary Sagna before heading home.

Aguero, who failed in his bid for a second consecutive Premier League Golden Boot, was played through by Jesus Navas’ pass from the right, but fired into the side-netting.

The Argentina star’s desire to overhaul Tottenham’s Harry Kane as the division’s top scorer appeared to affect his composure in front of goal, as he and Iheanacho were culpable of wasting opportunities during a dominant spell for the visitors.

Navas curled a shot wide after the impressive Kevin De Bruyne instigated a swift counter-attack in the 39th minute and Pellegrini’s men were left to their profligacy as Ayew’s free-kick on the stroke of half-time deflected off Fernando on the end of the wall and spun beyond Joe Hart.

The visitors were back on the front foot after the restart, with Eliaquim Mangala heading on to the roof of the net from a teasing left-wing delivery from De Bruyne.

Iheanacho’s poaching instincts let him down in the 52nd minute when Nordfeldt saved from Navas on the angle with his boot and the teenager could not convert the loose ball.

Aguero’s trials continued as he dragged an ugly effort wide, while there was an air of inevitability when Iheanacho lost his footing and sliced over in the 71st minute.

Samir Nasri then came on for Iheanacho as the match petered out and Manchester City escaped with their minimum requirement.

Sun 15 May, 2016
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