With City hot favorites to see off Villa at home, a mood made more of hope than expectation at Anfield was compounded when Pedro Neto fired Wolves into a shock early lead inside two minutes.
Lifted by Mane’s equalizer midway through the first-half, news of Villa’s surprise lead at the Etihad rippled through the crowd — the noise rocketing as the home crowd sensed a potentially magical ending to the domestic season.
Having lifted a first league title in 30 years to empty stands during the pandemic two years ago, to secure the 20th in a full stadium would have sweetened the achievement tenfold for Liverpool.
“Obviously a few nerves today, but in the end I thought we came through really well,” Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson told Sky Sports.
“We kept going and found a way to win. We heard the crowd cheering and stuff but didn’t really know what their score was. We were just trying to focus on what we needed to do.”
‘We’ve given absolutely everything’
İlkay Gündoğan’s title deciding goal for City ultimately put the pin in what had been a deafening atmosphere at Anfield, but when the dust settles, Liverpool will reflect on a phenomenal season that could still peak again.
City’s recovery means that they will remain the only English club to have completed the domestic treble, but the Reds will finish the season with a treble of their own should they defeat Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 28.
Triumph in Paris would add European glory to the FA Cup and Carabao Cup wins already this year, ensuring that Jürgen Klopp’s side would end the campaign on the highest of highs.
Despite the agony of the ending, it was all smiles after the final whistle as goalkeeper Alisson — tied for most clean sheets with City’s Ederson — collected the league’s golden glove award.
Meanwhile Salah added yet more personal accolades by picking up the prize for most assists, and the golden boot — shared with Spurs’ Son Heung-Min — for his 23-goal season.
“The lads have given everything, so you can’t have too many issues,” Henderson continued.
“We’ve given absolutely everything all season, right until the last day, and in January we’d have bit your hand off to take it to the last day.
“We’re a bit disappointed today. We’ve got to say congratulations to City of course, and then focus on the match next week.”