Barclays Premier League Final Day 2011/12
Manchester City 3-2 QPR
(Manchester City are PL champions)





Pablo Zabaleta races towards jubilant City supporters after scoring for the first time this season to get City on their way to a see-saw title victory (above top); while captain Vincent Kompany lifts the Premier League trophy at the end of the game with his team-mates (above below)



By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from the Etihad Stadium 


Manchester City clinched the Premier League title after scoring two late goals against ten-man QPR in an incredible climax at the Etihad Stadium.

Their first league championship in forty-four years was far from secure for Mancini's men on an afternoon of immense tension, drama, thrills and spills as the curtain went down on an extraordinary Premier League season. City went ahead through an unlikely source as Pablo Zabaleta shot went through the fingertips of Paddy Kenny shortly before half-time after a difficult first half.

Djibril Cisse finished superbly to shock everybody around the stadium early in the second period by equalising for Rangers before a moment of madness from Hoops skipper Joey Barton saw him sent off although Jamie Mackie put the away side infront to the astonishment of the home faithful. With United's 1-0 victory at Sunderland confirmed, Edin Dzeko equalised with a header before Sergio Aguero sent the stadium into ultimate bedlam with a cracking finish deep into added time. QPR remained in the league despite losing as Bolton could only draw 2-2 at Stoke City.

City named an unchanged team for the third game running sticking with the same eleven which saw off Manchester United in the derby and picked up a crucial 2-0 victory at Newcastle last Sunday with diminutive striking duo Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero paired once more in attack. Mario Balotelli returned to the bench having been left out altogether at St James Park last time out.

Mark Hughes, who was sacked with his backroom staff in December 2009 by City to pave the way for his opposite number Mancini, made two changes to the side who defeated Stoke City in a must-win home match a week ago with former City player Shaun Wright-Phillips and last weekend's matchwinner Djibril Cisse promoted from the substitutes bench to start. Adel Taarabt and Akos Buzsaky, carrying a hamstring problem, dropped out to back-up duty. Derry recovered from a dead leg to take his place in the team while Diakite missed out with a virus and Helguson with a groin strain.

The nerves crept in during the early stages for both sides in spite of the fact City dominated possession on the offensive from the offing. They knew an early goal would settle everything down for the hosts, who came into the game level on 86 points with the Red Devils, knowing also they needed to win the game.

QPR, who mathematically needed a draw to retain their Premier League status no matter what Bolton did in their fixture away at the Britannia Stadium, began with eleven men behind the ball with Mark Hughes issuing a bold statement from the outset in naming Cisse and Zamora as a front two although most of their work was done helping out the midfield.

The pocket of QPR supporters were shouting with happiness squirting through their voices with news of a Jon Walters goal giving Stoke City the lead in Bolton's game at the Britannia Stadium. The players were given renewed optimism as they held firm against an edgy but domineering City for much of the first period which had a low number of chances created. Kenny got away with one when spilling a cross which he tried to claim with one hand but managed to gather it in before David Silva could do any damage. The Spanish playmaker was then denied at the nearpost a minute later by the Irish goalkeeper after a neat burst into the box.



Manchester City have not conceded a goal in the first fifteen minutes of a Premier League game all season long.


Patience was a vital virtue for Manchester City against a firm and resolute Rangers team desperate for salvation of a different kind themselves. Cisse warmed the fingertips of a largely untroubled Joe Hart- winner of the golden glove award for most clean sheets for a second season in a row- between the sticks for the home side with a low fizzing free-kick with plenty of power after Gareth Barry had caught the striker's foot outside the box. The atmosphere in one end of the stadium changed somewhat after the dreaded news filtered through from the Stadium of Light that United had opened the scoring against Sunderland.

QPR- relegated along with City from the top flight in the 1995-96 season- used Kenny as a backdrop and almost an outfield player in the first half as he received a number of backpasses. The mood swung once City had taken a foothold and giant step towards the Premier League crown when taking the lead on 39 minutes when interplay between David Silva and Yaya Toure created space in behind for Zabaleta whose straight shot flapped through the fingertips of Rangers goalkeeper Kenny.

He tried to repair his misjudgement by keeping it out for a second time but was unsuccessful as the ball clearly crossed the goalline- and didn't City fans know it. The Argentine's first goal of the season was a timely one and he was pleased as punch as he continued to justify his selection ahead of Micah Richards at right-back and raced to celebrate with the supporters who had already begun the Poznan celebration.

The visitors- who have alternated between home win and away defeat for the last ten league games- had cut off all the supply lines that City had usually managed to flow in so many games this season through the likes of Silva, Aguero and Nasri. Their was a touch of bad news for City though as Yaya Toure, struggling with injury for several minutes but chose to play through the pain, flung himself to the ground after Zabaleta's goal and couldn't continue with the Ivorian replaced on his 29th birthday a minute before half-time by Nigel De Jong.

As City looked to come out and complete the job in the second half, an unforeseen and rare error from Joleon Lescott brought QPR back into the game and swung the pendulum United's way just three minutes after the restart. A hopeful ball hooked forward by Shaun Wright-Phillips, who spent two spells as a City player earlier in his career, was weakly headed back towards Hart by the England international defender and Cisse latched onto it to score his second goal in two games and sixth for the club since joining in January to throw a spoke in the home side's title hopes. The goal made sure as things stood that QPR were safe and United were lifting title number twenty.

City laid permanent siege towards the QPR goal in an utterly one-sided second 45 minutes generally speaking with the men in light blue stretching every sinue to put the destiny of the Premier League trophy back within their own control. Tevez- winner of two Premier League winners medals during his two-year stay at United- forced Kenny into action moments later while Clint Hill was a relieved man to see his slice at the ball travel the other side of the post. Aguero appeared to be in discomfort himself hopping around after the ball came at him at a fair old rate of knots as Zabaleta fired the ball goalwards from the edge of the box but the ball zipped off the striker and dropped wide.



It was Queens Park Rangers' first trip to the newly named Etihad Stadium having lost only two of their seven trips to play City away in their old Maine Road stadium.


Unsavoury scenes occurred on 55 minutes when a seemingly run-in between Carlos Tevez and Joey Barton on the edge of the box resulted in the dismissal of the QPR captain. Referee Mike Dean brandished the red card after consulting his assistant Andy Garratt on the far side who immediately flagged as emotions ran high and the tension spilled over with former City midfielder Barton refusing to leave the field and getting involved with City players in an aggressive nature.

Replays confirm Barton had indeed elbowed Tevez who wasn't entirely innocent himself in the incident while the former Newcastle man attempted to headbutt his fellow armband wearer Kompany during his walk off the pitch. In addition, he became the ninth QPR player to be given his marching orders in the Premier League this term.

The ten vs eleven factor was a familiar one during an ill-disciplined season for Rangers in what had been a well-disciplined performance upto that point as the dismissal looked to harm their chances of staying up and make their task increasingly difficult. And the implications were beginning to kick in straight away with Samir Nasri close from the resulting free-kick which Tevez had won from the fracare with Barton. The Frenchman was kept out by expert goalkeeping by Kenny- who suffered relegation heartache on the final day with Sheffield United five years ago. The numerical reduction in personnel forced a tactical switch with the defensive Armand Traore taking the place of forward Cisse.

With Bolton still infront against Stoke, Queens Park Rangers' Premier League futures were on the line and the stadium was shellshocked when the visitors- with the worst away record in the league this season- turned the game around to lead in a remarkable change of events at the Etihad when Armand Traore's run and delivery was headed in superbly by the tireless Jamie Mackie at the backpost. The home fans became restless, angry and visibly distressed by the goal which prompted the arrival of Edin Dzeko to the field in place of Barry while more positive news came through for QPR with hearing of Jon Walters netting an equalising penalty at Stoke.

It was all or nothing in terms of the title now for City, who had dropped just two home points in a 3-3 draw against Sunderland, as they probed for something to happen. Kompany had a header tipped over and Tevez slashed an effort hopelessly wide as the anguish grew and tension rose. Mario Balotelli was introduced for good measure as the pressure mounted with operation hang on going to plan thus far for the battling visitors. City turned the game around to beat QPR 3-2 at Loftus Road in the corresponding fixture in November and showed signs of doing so again here.

With the clock ticking into five additional minutes, fans were shedding tears with some heading for the exit. Mancini took up a Villas-Boas like crouched position on the edge of the technical area. City equalised with two of the five extra minutes played as Edin Dzeko's downward header from Silva's header flew into the net to reignite their hopes.

And the dreams of the title that City fans have been fantasising about since 1968 came true in a simply thrilling ending to a fairytale season of football in the Barclays Premier League and a magnificent match. Balotelli was heavily involved in the build-up with Anton Ferdinand lunging in to try and block with the ball rolling onto the classact Sergio Aguero who crashed an unstoppable shot past a dejected Kenny to spark incredible scenes around the stadium with followers of the Blues failing to contain their emotions in celebration of arguably the club's greatest ever moment.

After the inevitable pitch invasion at the sounding of the final whistle, legends of the past Mike Summerbee, Francis Lee and manager of the 1968 championship triumph Joe Mercer led the Premier League trophy wrapped in blue ribbons out of the tunnel. The class of 2012 collected their medals from Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore before City skipper Vincent Kompany- named this week as Premier League player of the season- lifted the trophy high into the air to start the celebrations which will no doubt carry on for an eternity and end a truly fascinating campaign which will live long in the memory. Nevertheless, it was the first time that the title had been won on goal difference with City scoring eight more goals than their local rivals.



Adam Higgins
The Football Site-  Chief Football Editor

"Congratulations to Manchester City on their title success. They have deserved it for being the most consistent team in the division over the 38 games which is a footballing marathon- they have kept going, had one more hurdle to jump over today and despite being in a losing situation for so long, got over the finishing line. The team that finishes top of the tree always deserves to win the league - the table does not lie. It was a real twist to see QPR, battling to stay in the division nonetheless, to lead in the second half although the sending off of Joey Barton really had dividends for the visitors as they tired after that and it allowed City to pile men forward. For all involved, it was intensely dramatic. As soon as City equalised early into the five additional minutes, given what has happened on so many occasions this season, you expected the third goal to come. QPR were penned back and City were desperately trying to pick their way through. But the finish from Sergio Aguero was absolutely first-class - he rattled it home magnificently as he has been doing all campaign long. You cannot say they haven't deserved the title -  Manchester United had their opportunity and blew it. City fans will never go through an experience like that ever again. One minute the title seemed out of their grasp and just fifteen minutes later the title was theirs. That final few minutes was agonising for all involved including the United party at the Stadium of Light but the real parties are only just beginning for those long-suffering fans of City who have been put through good and bad times in the club's history. It was an unbearable ending befitting an extraordinary Premier League season which has to be the best yet. This story just could not be written - this ending could not ever be replicated. This is probably the best ever Premier League moment I have ever seen. A quick word on QPR who I thought were going to emulate the secrets of Chelsea against Barcelona and have stayed in the league which is a huge achievement for them. They were superb as well and I'm glad for them that the moment of utter madness from their captain didn't cost them dearly on reflection. An incredible day."



Sunday 13th May 2012

Barclays Premier League

The Etihad Stadium


Manchester City 3-2 Queens Park Rangers                               KO 3pm           Live on Sky Sports 1/HD1/3D        (HT 1-0)

Zabaleta 39             Cisse 48
Dzeko 90+2             Mackie 66
Aguero 90+5

(Manchester City are Premier League Champions 2011/12)


Manchester City:  (4-4-2)  25 Hart- 8/10, 5 Zabaleta- 8.5/10, 6 Lescott- 7/10, 4 Kompany (C)- 8/10, 22 Clichy- 7.5/10, 19 Nasri- 7/10, 18 Barry- 6.5/10 (Dzeko 69- 3.5/10), 42 Yaya Toure- 3.5/10 (De Jong 44- 6/10), 21 Silva- 7.5/10, 32 Tevez- 7/10 (Balotelli 75- 2.5/10), 16 Aguero- 9.5/10.

Subs not used:  30 Pantilimon (GK), 2 Richards, 13 Kolarov, 7 Milner

Booked:      Aguero (90+5)


Queens Park Rangers(4-4-2)  1 Kenny- 8/10, 42 Onuoha- 8.5/10, 35 Ferdinand- 9/10, 3 Hill- 8.5/10, 34 Taiwo- 8.5/10, 32 Wright-Phillips- 8/10, 17 Barton (C)- 5/10, 4 Derry- 8.5/10, 12 Mackie- 8.5/10, 23 Cisse- 8/10 (Traore 59- 5.5/10), 52 Zamora- 7.5/10 (Bothroyd 76- 3/10).

Subs not used:  24 Cerny (GK), 6 Gabbidon, 7 Taarabt, 14 Buzsaky, 9 Campbell

Booked:      Bothroyd (77)

Sent-off:    Barton (55)


My Man of the Match:    Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)- Rating 9.5/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:    Joey Barton (Queens Park Rangers)- Rating 5/10



Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)- 8.5/10
Attendance: 52,000 



Match Facts

Manchester City- 62%                 QPR- 38%

Shots: Manchester City- 35                     QPR- 3

Shots on target: Manchester City- 24                   QPR- 3

Shots off target: Manchester City- 11                  QPR- 0

Corners: Manchester City- 19                       QPR- 0

Fouls: Manchester City- 4                      QPR- 6

Offside: Manchester City- 1                       QPR- 1

Assists: Manchester City- 3 (Yaya Toure, Silva, Balotelli)                  QPR- 2 (Wright-Phillips, Traore)






Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini

"It was an incredible moment for us- we have deserved to win the league and now that we have done it- it is a great feeling. The supporters have been fantastic all season and we didn't let them down. It is difficult to describe how we are all feeling right now, we are delighted to get over the line and win the game and the title. I think the players have done themselves proud. We wanted it so much and all we had to do was to win this game to get it. Three minutes before the end, we were 2-1 down and to score two goals in the space of a minute and a half was just incredible and that was the best moment that I have ever witnessed in football and this is certainly my best achievement as a manager so far."

Click here to watch the full post-match interview with City boss Roberto Mancini

Click here to listen to Manchester City players' reactions to winning the Premier League title




Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes

"It was a magnificent game to be involved in and an incredible ending. It must have been a great game to watch for the neutrals because of the unbelievable events that unfolded. I congratulate Manchester City on winning the title but I thought we were exceptionally good today. We were under really difficult circumstances. We stuck at it, we showed qualities and character and I am really pleased that we will get another crack at the Premier League next year and delighted for everybody connected with the club. We put in a great shift, good effort, the players worked tremendously hard and in the end we are disappointed to have lost the game at the end which left us a bit flat but it was enough to do what we had to which was to stay up. The red card for Joey (Barton) was a negative on a positive day for the football club and we are glad that our fantastic supporters have gone home happy. Comisserations of course to Bolton for being the ones that have to go down and I wish them well for next season."

Click here to listen to the thoughts of Hoops manager Mark Hughes after the match

Click here to watch the full post-match interview with Rangers chairman Tony Fernandes



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