Manchester City are Premier League champions for the first time in their history and champions of England for only the third time in history after a dramatic 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers at the Etihad today.
Roberto Mancini successfully guided the blue half of Manchester to their first English top flight crown since 1968 and here are some of the key moments during the 2011/12 that lead them on their way:
Manchester City 3-2 Queens Park Rangers – 13 May 2012
The final whistle had been blown at the Stadium of Light with Manchester City trailing Queens Park Rangers 2-1. Many United fans were celebrating what they thought would be a 13th Premier League crown. With the game in stoppage time at the Etihad, the league was set for its most dramatic ending.
Edin Dzeko headed home Manchester City's equaliser in the second minute of stoppage time. An additional 5 minutes were added on; some of that contributed by Joey Barton was his sending off and delay leaving the pitch. And in the fourth minute of that, a grounded Mario Balotelli managed to poke the ball through to Sergio Aguero to create history. The Argentine smashed home the goal that will go down in Manchester City folklore and that caused an eruption at the Etihad.
Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal – 18 December 2011
Arsenal came into this game winning 7 of their last 8 Premier League games after a dreadful start to the season. Arsene Wenger's side were moving up the table and now on the edge of a Champions League place; 5 points behind their bitter rivals Tottenham.
In what was a close game, David Silva scored the deciding goal in this game early into the second half afterWojciech Szczesny failed to hold onto Mario Balotelli's shot. Samir Nasri caused his former side problems in midfield, whilst Joe Hart was forced into half a dozen saves to keep 1 of his 17 clean sheets of the season as Manchester City maintained a 2 point lead over Manchester United a week before Christmas.
Manchester City 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur – 22 January 2012
Tottenham Hotspur had lost 1 of their last 19 Premier League games heading into this clash at the Etihad, winning 14 games during this spell. Some pundits were taking Harry Redknapp's side as a genuine title contender; 5 points behind leaders City prior to this game.
Manchester City had won all 10 home Premier League games up to this point, and 15 in a row since drawing 1-1 at home to Fulham last season. After a goalless first half, Samir Nasri and Joleon Lescott put the home side 2-0 up before the hour. From nowhere, Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale had pegged back the league leaders. In stoppage time Gareth Bale pulled away down the left wing with an opportunity to square the ball to an unmarked Jermain Defoe in the 6 yard box. The England forward narrowly failed to make full contact at the back post and City survived. Then, Mario Balotelli was hauled down inside the penalty area by Ledley King as the striker attempted to latch onto a hopeful long ball. The controversial Italian stepped up to convert the penalty and ensure a valuable 3 points for the Citizens.
Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea – 21 March 2012
Manchester United had a 4-point lead at the top of the Premier League prior to the Wednesday night game. Chelsea were experiencing new life under caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo, winning all 4 of his games in charge leading up to this game.
After a dull first half, Gary Cahill made the breakthrough on the hour with a deflected effort. Roberto Mancini made the brave decision to bring on Carlos Tevez for Nigel de Jong midway through the second half, still trailing 1-0. Sergio Aguero equalised from the penalty spot with 12 minutes remaining following Pablo Zabaleta's shot that struck the hand of Michael Essien. With 5 minutes remaining, Carlos Tevez produced a moment of magic to flick Samir Nasri in on goal who coolly finished to narrow United's lead to a 1 point lead with 9 games remaining.
Newcastle United 0-2 Manchester City – 6 May 2012
Roberto Mancini had been insisting for weeks that the title race was over for Manchester City, even heading into the final two games of the season, topping the league with a significant lead in the goal difference column. Newcastle United overachieved this season and a victory on Sunday would have put them into the top 4 and the potential of a Champions League appearance next season heading into the final game.
Instead, Manchester City would go on to win and all-but-seal the Premier League title for the first time in their history. Stalemate on the hour, Roberto Mancini made the first substitution of the game, bringing on the defensive Nigel de Jong for the attacking Samir Nasri. The change allowed Yaya Toure to push forward. Manchester City fans can now embrace it as the title-winning substitution as the Ivorian scored both goals on their way to 3 points.
Notable Manchester United Losses
Manchester United 2-3 Blackburn Rovers – 31 December 2011
A goalless draw at West Brom on Boxing Day for City allowed Manchester United to head into 2012 top of the Premier League by picking up at least 1 point at home to bottom of the league Blackburn Rovers. A formality, right?
Yakubu's penalty was the only goal of the first half, but the Nigerian striker doubled Rovers' shock lead at Old Trafford early into the second half. After a brace from Dimitar Berbatov to bring United level on 62 minutes, we were all expecting the standard home victory in the final half hour. Sir Alex Ferguson's side failed to break down a battling Blackburn side who then had the cheek to take all 3 points home with them when Grant Hanley nodded home a winner from close range in the final 10 minutes following another gaff from David de Gea.
Newcastle United 3-0 Manchester United – 4 January 2012
Following their defeat on New Year's Eve to Blackburn, Manchester United were expected to hit back on their trip to Newcastle. At this stage Newcastle were a top half side, although below Liverpool and not taken seriously for a Champions League position.
Pundits started taking note of Alan Pardew's side when they hammered Manchester United to start 2012. Demba Ba scored a goal of the month candidate to give the Magpies a 1-0 half time lead. Minutes in the second half, Yohan Cabaye excellently dispatched a long range free kick to double Newcastle's lead. In the final minute, a blunder fromPhil Jones made it 3, leaving City with a 3-point lead over their rivals to start the new year.
Wigan Athletic 1-0 Manchester United – 11 April 2012
Following Mikel Arteta's late strike at the Emirates to down City, Manchester United went into a Wednesday night trip to the DW Stadium with an 8 point lead with just 6 games to go. The Premier League leaders had won 8 in a row coming into this midweek fixture. The hosts themselves had started to see a turn in form, picking up 7 points in the 4 games prior to this.
Manchester United never got out the blocks and were fortunate not to be behind when Victor Moses header was harshly ruled out. Wigan did get the breakthrough early in the second half when Shaun Maloney collected the ball on the edge of United's penalty area from a corner before masterly curling the ball into David de Gea's far corner. Danny Welbeck's feeble effort in the second half was the only save Ali Al-Habsi was forced to make all game.
Manchester United 4-4 Everton – 22 April 2012
Manchester United's last game before their trip to the Etihad. A 5-point lead over City going into the weekend, facing a side they had beaten in 15 of their last 18 Premier League meetings at Old Trafford.
Having fallen behind to Nikica Jelavic's goal, Manchester United came back to lead 3-1 and 4-2 and on course for their eighth successive Premier League game at Old Trafford in 2012. That was until Everton pulled off a surprise comeback in the final 7 minutes, aided by some poor Manchester United defending. Rio Ferdinand was caught ball-watching as Nikica Jelavic scored his second of the game before Steven Pienaar's dramatic equaliser. Ferdinand had a thumping left-footed drive tipped over the bar late on, ultimately failing to restore United's lead.
Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City – 23 October 2011
Manchester City came to Old Trafford with a 2 point lead and a goal difference better by 2 over their local neighbours ahead of Sunday's game. Two months earlier City had blown a 2-goal lead to lose the Community Shield 3-2 at Wembley. If there was any doubts over Roberto Mancini's side's credentials for Premier League champions, this match made everyone take note.
Mario Balotelli opened the scoring midway through the first half, revealing his infamous shirt in celebration. The Italian was then on the end of a last ditch challenge from Jonny Evans at the start of the second half that would see the Northern Irish centre back dismissed. Balotelli went on to add a second and Sergio Aguero a third before Darren Fletcher's consolation. As Manchester United pushed forward in the dying moments of the game, City added 3 more from the 90th minute onwards; a brace from Edin Dzeko either side of a strike from David Silva.
Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United – 30 April 2012
Following Manchester United's draw at home to Everton the week before, this setup the biggest Manchester derby of all time. The pre-season league favourites came to the Etihad with a 3-point lead but an inferior goal difference.
Manchester United played a negative formation for their Monday night trip. In-form Antonio Valencia was left out whilst both Park Ji-Sung and Chris Smalling made their first starts in months. The result: Manchester United failed to force a single save out of Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany's goal in first half stoppage time, helped by Carlos Tevez shielding David de Gea sent the Citizens to the top of the Premier League with 2 games remaining. A fortnight later and Manchester City are now the Premier League champions for the first time in history.