On this day four years ago, the Premier League witnessed arguably its greatest-ever finish as Manchester City faced QPR hoping to secure their first Premier League title.
Manchester City 3 Queens Park Rangers 2
Roberto Mancini’s side had done the hard work over the season to leave them a somewhat simple equation: win against QPR and they would win the Premier League on goal difference.
Coming into the final game of the season, the Sky Blues were on a run of five consecutive victories – the last of which was a 2-0 win at Newcastle – while Manchester United travelled to Sunderland needing a slip-up from their cross-city rivals.
City struggled to fashion clear-cut chances in the early stages, with the visitors’ intentions clear as they set up banks of players in the hope of playing the role of party spoilers.
The breakthrough came six minutes before half-time, lifting the immense sense of pressure at the Etihad Stadium. Yaya Toure was able to play through full-back Pablo Zabaleta and he beat QPR keeper Paddy Kenny that skimmed in off the far post.
Rangers were not safe either, but their chances of survival were done the world of good when they managed to equaliser just after the break. A poor header from Joleon Lescott to Joe Hart allowed Djibril Cisse to steal in and level the game.
Joey Barton was stupidly sent off soon after, claiming he was provoked by Carlos Tevez, and after the ensuing melee he kicked Sergio Aguero to the floor.
The West Londoners were to land one more stunning blow on the home crowd, as the BBC recall.
“QPR lifted the siege in stunning fashion when Mackie stole in at the far post to head them in front and all City’s efforts were thwarted as Kenny saved well from David Silva, Aguero and Dzeko among others.”
Almost simultaneously, news filtered through that United had won at the Stadium of Light thanks to Wayne Rooney’s goal, but Edin Dzeko gave City hope as he powered home a 92nd minute header. Cue frantic sprints back to the half way line.
Two minutes later the unthinkable happened, as The Guardian describe.
“It goes like this: four of the five minutes of extra time had elapsed when Sergio Agüero found himself with the ball. He was inside the penalty area, on his right foot, and it was then that everything suddenly seemed to go into slow motion. This was the moment football blurred with pandemonium.”
QPR ended up surviving thanks to Stoke holding Bolton to a draw, but the headlines that day belonged to the blue half of Manchester.
Manchester City: Hart, Kompany, Zabaleta, Lescott, Clichy, Barry, Nasri, Silva, Y Toure, Aguero, Tevez. Substitutes: Pantilimon, Richards, Kolarov, Milner, De Jong, Dzeko, Balotelli.
Goals: Zabaleta 39, Dzeko 90+2, Aguero 90+5.
Queens Park Rangers: Kenny, Hill, Taiwo, Ferdinand, Onuoha, Derry, Barton, Wright-Phillips, Mackie, Cisse, Zamora. Substitutes: Cerny, Gabbidon, Traore, Taarabt, Buzsaky, Campbell, Bothroyd.
Goals: Cisse 48, Mackie 66.
What they said
Roberto Mancini felt his side were good value for their title win.
“We have beaten United two times, we have scored more than them and conceded less so we deserve it,” Mancini said.
“I never gave up. It was a crazy finish to the game and the season but the best team won the title.”
“It was just incredible but the result was right and we deserved to win this game,” added Mancini, who wrapped himself in an Italian flag at the final whistle.
“I never gave up. I always hoped that Sunderland could score a goal but it was a crazy finish to the game and the season. I have never seen one like this.
“I have never known a moment like this when we scored those two goals and I am so proud of my players because they wanted to win this title so much. They wanted to win this title until the last minute of the season and they proved it here.”
Sir Alex Ferguson, reflecting in 2015, told of how the title slipped through the fingertips of his team.
“We were champions for 30 seconds,” Ferguson told ESPN FC.
“You’ve got to understand that these are human beings and they are hurting as much as anyone, as much as I am.
“In terms of leading them and bringing our personality into the room, in terms of dealing with it, they have got to represent themselves and the club properly. So I said to them in the dressing room that night: ‘There’s nothing to be ashamed of; you were fantastic. Walk out that door and tell everyone you’re going to win the league next year. That’s your job’.”