Injury time winner seals the most dramatic title race
The hard work had been done. Perennial underachievers Manchester City had, against the odds, chased down an eight point deficit to rivals United over just six games. Alex Ferguson's team had imploded spectacularly, and it now looked a formality that the Blues would lift their first league title in 44 years. City just required a home victory against relegation threatened QPR, and the title was theirs. Their form at The Etihad that season had been almost impeccable, with just two points dropped in the 18 games played at that point. City fans arrived in high spirits, and there was a sense that this was merely a title procession.
Despite an anxious first half, Pablo Zabaleta scored a fortuitous goal just before the break to settle any lingering nerves and there were joyous celebrations on the concourses at half time. It was real, we were actually going to win the league! Bloody hell. Many of us had resigned ourselves, prior to Sheik Mansour's takeover, to the likelihood that we may never win a trophy again.
City, being City of course, couldn't do things in a conventional manner. Early in the second half an error from Joleon Lescott allowed Djibril Cisse to eqaulise for QPR. United were winning at Sunderland, but there was still a sense that Cisse's goal would merely spark City into life. They hadn't come this far just to blow it at the last minute. Had they?
Confidence grew further when Joey Barton was sent off for a petulant elbow on Carlos Tevez, but there was stunned disbelief when the ten men of QPR promptly took the lead through Jamie Macken. Anticipation turned to anger and despair in the crowd. The curse of "Typical City" had struck again. News reached The Stadium of Light, where United fans began celebrating wildly. City pressed and pressed, but to no avail. On the touchline, Roberto Mancini could clearly be seen pointing to each member of his back four, screaming "F** you" at them in turn.
In the first minute of injury time Edin Dzeko headed home from a David Silva corner, but few people still believed that City could get the goal they needed to win the title. If anything, the Bosnian's consolation only made matters worse.
The full time whistle was blown at the Stadium of Light and joyous celebrations began in earnest from the travelling United suppport. But then...
In the 94th minute, Nigel de Jong picked up the ball in his own half and sent it forward to Sergio Aguero. The Argentinian striker played a one-two with Mario Balotelli, and was nearly scythed down by Nedum Onuoha inside the penalty area. Aguero managed to stay on his feet and time seemed to pause as he pulled back his right foot. His honesty was rewarded as he emphatically smashed the ball home, and The Etihad erupted into scenes of delirium. The joy in Manchester was only matched by the agony on Wearside as news filtered through to United's fans that the Blues had won the league in the most dramatic of circumstances. It was a moment that I suspect will never be matched in terms of excitement and drama.
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