By ROB HARRIS
AP Global Soccer Writer
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City started celebrations to mark a decade since its first Premier League title by trying to prevent the sixth success being as tense or dramatic with a rout started and ended by Raheem Sterling.
What had been a tight title race is now more firmly in City’s control after a 5-0 victory over Newcastle sent the champions three points clear of Liverpool on Sunday.
How costly Liverpool only drawing with Tottenham on Saturday could prove to be, with City now also holding a superior goal difference of plus-4 over its rival with three games to go.
Between a pair of goals from Sterling, Aymeric Laporte, Rodri and Phil Foden also found the net. The stylish win ensured City could even have the luxury of dropping points in a remaining game and still win a sixth English title in 10 years.
Surely City won’t take clinching the trophy down to injury time of the final game like in 2012 — a moment immortalized in T-shirts worn by the 2022 squad before kickoff on Sunday featuring “Agueroooo 93:20” to mark the moment Sergio Aguero scored the title-winning goal.
What hasn’t changed in the 10 years — for all the Premier League titles won — is the search for Champions League glory. But after a collapse at Real Madrid on Wednesday denied City a spot in a second successive final, Pep Guardiola’s side made an effortless return to domestic duties.
“We’ve bounced back perfectly,” City attacker Jack Grealish said. “We’ve stuck together as a team and as a unit the last few days which was needed and now we’ll just try to finish the season strongly.”
In years to come, it could be Newcastle challenging City for honors not just in the Premier League but in Europe too.
“We’re richer than you,” Newcastle fans mockingly taunted their City counterparts.
But City showed the advantage of 14 years of Abu Dhabi funding over a Newcastle side that has had only one transfer window since being bought by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and spent to avoid relegation.
Once Chris Wood’s tame header wasted a chance to give Newcastle the lead, João Cancelo headed across the face of the visiting goal and Sterling nodded City in front in the 19th minute.
Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka’s inability to hold off İlkay Gündoğan’s strike from outside the penalty area eventually allowed Laporte to pounce for the second goal in the 38th. That goal came from a corner, as did the third in the 61st when Rodri headed in from Kevin De Bruyne’s delivery.
The gloss on the win came when Jack Grealish set up Oleksandr Zinchenko for a shot that was turned in by Foden in the 90th. And in the third minute of stoppage time, Grealish teed up Sterling to sweep in his second goal.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE CHASE
The Champions League is preparing to welcome back Arsenal after a five-season absence.
The north London club is close to sealing fourth place and a return to Europe’s elite and lucrative competition after a 2-1 victory over Leeds on Sunday pulled the team four points clear of Tottenham with three games to go.
The first of those is at Tottenham on Thursday and a victory in the north London derby would clinch fourth place.
It was Eddie Nketiah’s double in the opening 10 minutes that ultimately secured the win over Leeds, which had captain Luke Ayling sent off in the 27th minute for a two-footed challenge on Gabriel Martinelli. Diego Llorente’s second-half goal for Leeds couldn’t spark a comeback.
Arsenal qualified for the Champions League for 19 consecutive seasons under Arsene Wenger before two years of failing to do so led to the manager’s departure in 2018.
Losing at Arsenal sent Leeds into the drop zone alongside already-relegated Watford and Norwich, while Everton jumped out of the bottom three with a 2-1 win at Leicester.
Mason Holgate’s header clinched the win for Everton on the half-hour after Vitalii Mykolenko’s volley had been canceled out by Leicester forward Patson Daka. Jordan Pickford’s saves for Everton made sure of the three points in the second half.
Frank Lampard’s Everton has the advantage of having three games remaining while Burnley and Leeds, which are a point below Everton, have one match fewer.
Manchester United’s worst-ever Premier League season — typified by a 4-0 collapse at Brighton on Saturday — has given West Ham hope of dislodging the fallen giant from sixth place.
A 4-0 victory over last-place Norwich kept West Ham in seventh place — enough for Europa Conference League qualification — but David Moyes’ side is only three points from sixth with two games remaining and one in hand on United in the final Europa League spot.
Said Benrahma’s double, a Michail Antonio strike and Manuel Lanzini’s second-half penalty secured the emphatic win for West Ham, which was denied a place in this season’s Europa League final by Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports