Man City's three-minute heroes wipe the grin off Fergie's face
Alex Ferguson's Man United went from Champions to chumps in Super Sunday injury time
TRUST ME, if the Premier League lasts for a thousand more years there will never be a day like Sunday 13 May 2012.
Incredible, extraordinary, amazing, astounding, oh what's the point! No superlative will do justice to what unfolded at the Etihad Stadium at roughly 5pm last night.
Manchester City were 2-1 down to QPR in stoppage time while Manchester United were walking off the Stadium of Light having beaten Sunderland 1-0 thanks to Wayne Rooney's first-half strike. The smile on Alex Ferguson's face said it all: title number 13 in the bag and the Sky Blues confirmed as the country's biggest chokers. And then...
The impossible began with an inswinging corner and the leap of Edin Dzeko that saw the big Bosnian head home the equalising goal on 92 minutes. But a point wasn't enough. City needed two more to top the table on goal difference - and they had just two minutes left on the clock to find them.
They surged upfield and the ball came to Sergio Aguero. The little Argentine dabbed the ball forward to Mario Balotelli and the Italian did well to hook it to his left, into the path of the advancing Aguero. He skipped out of one tackle and then with his right foot whipped in a shot that beat Paddy Kenny at his near post for power and pace.
The City players went potty; the City fans went potty; the City bench went potty; come to think of it, even the Rangers bench went potty. It was that sort of moment, one that children not yet born will be hearing about from their grandparents in 50 years' time.
Up in Sunderland, meanwhile, the news came through on radios and mobiles. Faces dropped, shoulders sagged and Alex Ferguson's smug grin went the way of his side's title hopes.
Back in Manchester, Roberto Mancini couldn't take it all in. Wrapped in an Italian flag at the final whistle, the City manager did his best to make sense of it all.
"The football was incredible," he said, his face still pale and drawn. "This is for our supporters, they deserve this. To win like this is incredible. I've never seen a climax like this... this is incredible. It's been a crazy season and a crazy last few minutes."
In fairness to Fergie, once he'd recovered his composure he was gracious in defeat, albeit through gritted teeth.
"Everybody expected City to win, but they did it against 10 men [Joey Barton was sent off on 55 minutes] for half an hour and with five extra minutes to help them. But I congratulate City on winning the league. Anybody who wins it deserves it, because it's a long haul."
Further down the table and Arsenal won the race for third and automatic Champions League qualification, though the Gunners crossed the line glancing nervously over their shoulder at a Tottenham side who disposed of Fulham without breaking into a sweat.
Arsenal were mostly awful in their 3-2 win at West Brom, their shambolic defence once more a disgrace, but fortunately for the Gunners they were up against a goalkeeper of eye-popping ineptitude. Marton Fulop, a late replacement for Ben Foster, was responsible for all three Arsenal goals as Baggies manager Roy Hodgson left the club in the worst possible way.
He now takes over at England, while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger must take stock of an Arsenal side still three or four players short of the required standard.
"I would not say it is a failure," said Wenger when asked to reflect on the fact Arsenal finished 19 points adrift of the top two.
"We have qualified for the [Champions League] for a 15th season in a row now. There are only three clubs that have done that so it is not as easy as it looks."
Despite Tottenham's 2-0 defeat of Fulham the Lilywhites' fourth place finish might still not be enough to see them into the Champions League next season. They need Chelsea to lose to Bayern Munich on Saturday and Spurs' boss Harry Redknapp was happy to admit he'd be cheering on the Germans in the Champions League final.
"I'd be a liar if I stood here and said otherwise. I want Tottenham to finish in the Champions League and it's now up to Bayern Munich to finish the job. What will be will be."
Newcastle's 3-1 defeat at Everton meant they finished fifth and will be in the Europa League next season, while the Toffees were also able to celebrate finishing above Liverpool after the Reds' miserable league season ended with a 1-0 defeat at Swansea.
Meanwhile at the foot of the table, Bolton's 2-2 draw away at Stoke wasn't enough to save them from the drop despite City's miraculous comeback against QPR. “We need to bounce back now,” said Trotters boss Owen Coyle after his side's 11 year stay in the Premier League came to an end. “Of course we are disappointed and hurt. We'll regroup and pick ourselves up and see in the next few days what we need to do to move forward." ·