It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
The afternoon of May 13, 2012 will go down in the annals of English football as one of the most historic ones ever. That was the day when the natural order of the English Premier League was officially upset. After playing in the shadow of their big brother for decades on end, the neo-riche upstarts finally edged out their crosstown rivals at the last minute--quite literally!
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know we're talking about Manchester City's 94th-minute win over QPR that ensured Manchester United didn't have the last laugh this season.
In a league where each team plays a total of 38 matches, the odds of two bitter rivals ending up with the exact same number of points--that too on the top of the table--are miniscule to say the least! However, that is exactly what happened in the EPL this year, as City and United ended up with 89 points apiece; City edged out Utd on account of their superior goal difference.
Heading into their final game of the season--which was at 2:00 pm on May 13--both Man City and Man Utd knew a win was the bare minimum. The Red Devils, who squared off against Sunderland, played clinical football, and with the help of a Wayne Rooney strike went 1-0 up in the 20th minute. Despite their dominating possession of the ball, United had to make their peace with that scoreline.
Meanwhile, in Manchester, the Blues had their hands full with the Queens Park Rangers--a club that barely escaped relegation. After Pablo Zabaleta struck first for City in the 39th minute, the still-dangerous Djibril Cissé drew level for the Rangers. Thereafter, it was a mad scramble as the Blues dominated possession, but didn't have much to show for it.
In one such moment of madness, Jamie Mackie got enough space in the box to drill in an amazing header to put QPR a goal up. Down 2-1 in the 66th minute, Sergio Mancini's men were under tremendous pressure, whereas Alex Ferguson and co. knew that calm, possession football would bring home their 20th EPL title.
The next 24 minutes played out no differently for City as they desperately tried to convert half-chances into title-winners. And with stoppage time upon them, a win seemed improbable--remember, a tie would not help their cause as United would win outright even then!
While United fans were stocking up on confetti, there was still a matter of City playing out the prolonged stoppage time. The Blues needed their big guns to fire one last time after what had been a fantastic season for them. And sure enough, Edin Dzeko, the club's second-highest scorer in the EPL this year, headed in a corner in the 92nd minute to give his team some hope.
However, a draw was just as bad as a loss here, and City still needed something from their very best. Lo and behold, as in the 94th minute Sergio Agüero--City's highest goal-scorer--kicked in what will go down as the biggest goal of his career and in his club's history! City pulled off a heist against Queens Park and their victims were the Red Devils!
In our opinion, this was City's title to lose, and we're really glad they didn't. Thanks to a few slip-ups towards the end, Manchester United were looking set to win another piece of silverware for their overflowing trophy cabinet. Given Alex Ferguson's experience and leadership, we had all but written off a City comeback.
However, over the last month or so, the Blues have bounced back brilliantly to get back into contention. In the process, they even registered a 1-0 win over United a couple of weeks ago--to add to their 6-1 drubbing of the Red Devils at Old Trafford.
As a result, it would have been a bitter pill for City to swallow if they were to lose the title to a team they've completely dominated. So while the last-minute title win might have come against a weaker side, it still marks a perfect end to a perfect season for a club that deserved the biggest prize in English football.
Here's a video of the match's highlights (the sound quality is terrible, so you're better off without it):
-Picture courtesy Reuters-
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