Joy for Manchester City as last-gasp goals give them the title

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Manchester City 3 QPR 2

Manchester City scored twice in stoppage-time to clinch their first league title since 1968.

A quite incredible season ended in the most dramatic way possible, with City snatching victory from the jaws of what seemed certain to become the most disastrous defeat imaginable.

Second-half goals from Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie, either side of a ridiculous Joey Barton red card, seemed to have turned the entire season on its head.

But with the game entering five minutes of stoppage time, City produced a finish equally as memorable as that of Manchester United in the 1999 Champions League final.

That United should be denied just made the joy so much sweeter, as first Edin Dzeko nodded the Blues level before Sergio Aguero collected Mario Balotelli's return pass and drove home the goal that crowned City champions.

Bolton's failure to beat Stoke meant QPR survived anyway, which was the very least their defiant defending deserved in a truly astonishing game.

There is nothing quite like the last day of the season for making the most straightforward of tasks seem akin to scaling Mount Everest.

On the face of it, City, having dropped just two points at home all season, had little to worry about from QPR, who had two points in 11 away games and conceded six at Chelsea a fortnight ago.

For 38 long minutes though, the Blues could not find a way through their opponents' blanket defence.

Mark Hughes had set his side up to spend long periods without the ball and challenged City to find a gap.

David Silva came closest, driving one shot wide, having a near-post effort saved by Kenny and another goalbound strike blocked by Barton.

QPR remained defiant though, if not exactly composed.

It needed something a little bit different for City to open their opponents up. Pablo Zabaleta provided it.

In 152 previous appearances for the club, the full-back had managed just three goals. His last came in May 2011, 35 matches ago.

With a sense of anxiety gripping the stands as news of their temporary status as number two in the Premier League filtered through, Zabaleta scorched in from the right flank.

He kept advancing after laying a pass off to Silva, who in turn fed Yaya Toure.

It meant he was within striking range when Toure flicked the ball through and let fly with a fierce effort towards the far post. TV replays did not do Kenny many favours as the ball slithered through his fingers, but in real-time, the QPR keeper had been exposed and his reaction was not quick enough as he turned and tried to claw the ball out of his goal after it had bounced in off the woodwork.

The stadium erupted. Suddenly, what was happening at the Stadium of Light did not seem quite so important.

Instead it was events at the Britannia Stadium that were of huge importance as, from being in a position of relative comfort in terms of their own top-flight status, QPR were now hanging over the trapdoor, with the famous fat lady beginning to clear her throat.

It meant Mark Hughes, returning to the club that dumped him so unceremoniously in December 2009, knew he could no longer rely on his containment policy, which was both an opportunity for City and a reason to be wary.

And so it proved as Joleon Lescott made a disastrous decision to head Shaun Wright-Phillips' hopeful lofted pass back to Joe Hart. Cisse read it and duly smashed a first-time shot into the bottom corner.

Back came all those nerves, although the worry was soon replaced by fury at Barton's antics.

The one-time City midfielder, whose time at the club was scarred by so many problems, will receive an automatic suspension for elbowing Carlos Tevez in the face, but surely there will be an additional sanction for his attack on Aguero, which was deliberate, as he was ushered from the field, the incident sparking a mass confrontation which substitute Mario Balotelli wanted to get involved in.

The drama had only just begun though. And when substitute Armand Traore skipped past Zabaleta on a rare foray forward, his far-post cross was perfect for Mackie, who launched himself at the ball with a diving header neither Hart nor Lescott could keep out.

Now City had only one course of action open to them.

On came Dzeko, then Balotelli in a frantic attempt to grab a lifeline.

Both came close, Dzeko hitting a post, Balotelli drawing a fine save from Kenny as QPR abandoned any pretext of attacking intent.

It all looked to be in vain as the game entered five minutes of stoppage time.

Even the celebrations at Dzeko's leveller, when there were under four minutes left, were muted.

But when Aguero scored his 30th - and by far the most important and dramatic - goal of the season 120 seconds later, the roof came off the Etihad Stadium.

PA

Gallery: Champions: How Manchester City won the Premier League title

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Extras
indybest 9 best steam generator irons
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering