MANCHESTER, England — In the closing moments of the Premier League’s most dramatic season, Manchester City had just enough time for one final, breathtaking twist.
With the club’s title hopes fading by the second, its anguished fans in disbelief in the stands, relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers clung to a one-goal lead after 90 minutes. City then threw all its attacking might forward to produce one of English soccer’s greatest comebacks.
Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero scored during injury time in a 3-2 victory that gave City its first league title since 1968. City finished ahead of crosstown rival Manchester United on goal difference.
“It’s a crazy finish for a crazy season,” City manager Roberto Mancini said. “I’ve never seen a final like this.”
No one had.
After a season in which the title race shifted back and forth between the Manchester clubs, City appeared to have thrown it all away on the final day. It let 10-man QPR rally from a goal down to take the lead in the second half while United completed a 1-0 victory at Sunderland.
But Dzeko headed in a tying goal in the second minute of stoppage time to give City fans hope. Aguero then clinched the title when he slalomed through the QPR defense and blasted the ball into the net. As Mancini raised his hands and ran along the sideline, Aguero – the son-in-law of Diego Maradona – tore his shirt off in jubilation before he was mobbed by teammates.
“He was crying on the floor,” City captain Vincent Kompany said. “All the guys were pouring their eyes out. You don’t see strong personalities like that showing their emotion so often.”
Moments earlier, United completed its victory at Sunderland and was lingering on the field in northeast England, waiting for the final result of the City game and ready to start celebrating title No. 20.
Instead, a party 44 years in the making burst into life back in the blue half of Manchester as fans flooded the City field and exploded blue smoke canisters.
“Miracles do happen in Manchester,” Kompany said. “This time it’s on this side of the road.”
Now United will have to live with the fact that the club once dismissed by manager Alex Ferguson as a “noisy neighbor” is now a serious threat to its supremacy.
United had won 19 titles since City last won the English crown for just the second time in 1968. City has since had to climb back into the Premier League from the depths of the third tier in 1999. But it became a contender after a takeover by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour, who has invested more than $1 billion into the club over three years.