Liverpool have completed their 119-day mission to displace Manchester City from atop the English Premier League – but it lasted only a matter of hours.
The status quo was ultimately maintained in what is promising to be another gripping fight for the title between the two giants from north-west England after they beat relegation-threatened opponents on Saturday.
Liverpool were first up, beating third-from-last Watford 2-0 thanks to goals by Diogo Jota and Fabinho to make it 10 straight victories in the league.
That meant City dropped out of first place for the first time since December 4.
Not for long, though.
Pep Guardiola’s team kicked off barely 30 minutes later at next-to-last Burnley, took the lead after five minutes through Kevin De Bruyne, and coasted to a 2-0 victory. Ilkay Gundogan scored the other goal.
Liverpool and City have games in the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday before what could yet be a decisive meeting at City’s Etihad Stadium five days later.
One point will separate them heading into what could prove to be a title-decider, with each team having seven more games after that.
That suits Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp just fine, with his team having been 14 points behind in mid-January — albeit with games in hand.
“I really appreciate the situation we are in,” said Klopp.
“If somebody would have told us in the summer that end of March, early April, we would be in the situation we are in – in all competitions, won one trophy and a full squad available – we all would have taken it, absolutely.”
If third-placed Chelsea had any faint ambitions of catching the top two, they were surely extinguished after conceding four second-half goals in a stunning 4-1 home loss to London rivals Brentford.
One of Brentford’s scorers at Stamford Bridge was Christian Eriksen, who netted the second for his first goal in the Premier League since returning from suffering a cardiac arrest at last year’s European Championship.
He also scored in back-to-back games for Denmark over the international break.
Chelsea — up for sale and beset by unrelenting takeover talk — may now be looking over their shoulders, with fourth-placed Arsenal five points adrift but with a game in hand, at Crystal Palace on Monday.
Manchester United look increasingly unlikely to capture a Champions League qualification place from the wreckage of their season, a 1-1 draw at home to Leicester keeping them sixth, four points behind Arsenal, who have two games in hand.
Leicester went ahead through Kelechi Iheanacho’s 63rd-minute diving header, only for Fred to equalise three minutes later.
Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse earned his team a 1-1 draw at Leeds with a free kick into the top corner. Only David Beckham, with 18, has scored more direct free kick goals in Premier League history than Ward-Prowse’s 13.
Last-placed Norwich ended a run of six straight losses in the league by drawing at Brighton 0-0 but they’re still seven points from safety with eight games left.
In the other game, Wolverhampton climbed to seventh place and kept up their push for a finish in the European positions by beating Aston Villa 2-1.