GREAT WIN, INCREDIBLE FINISH
I'm not a Manchester City fan, but wow, what a moment! I watched it on TV this morning and I wish everyone could have seen it!
All Manchester City had to do to become champions of the English Premier League was win. They were playing at home. They have the best home record of the 20 teams in the league. They were playing against Queens Park Rangers from London. QPR has the worst road record in the league.
The "Sky Blues" of Manchester City had not won the top tier of English football (soccer) since 1968, well before the old First Division became what is now the Premier League.
It should have been easy but it wasn't. Man. City dominated every facet of the game except the score. They took a fragile 1-0 lead into the half time break.
Here's the twist. In the EPL, the bottom three teams get relegated, sent down to a lower league. Imagine if the Colorado Rockies finish last in the NL West so they lose their Major League status and become a Triple-A team for next season. That's what QPR was facing. That's why QPR wouldn't and couldn't just roll over and let Man. City win.
Early in the second half QPR managed to score a goal to even things up. To the north, Manchester United was winning at Sunderland. If City were to lose or draw, and United were to win, then Manchester United would claim the league title, their record 19th.
On a personal note: Manchester United is a great team, double-stacked with incredible players. They are perennial contenders for everything. They are also the team that many American fans pick as their favorite if they want to have a favorite, simply because they win so much...it's just the easy team to pick. That's a huge pet peeve for me and one of the reasons I really dislike Manchester United. It's like when you see New York Yankees caps all over young people in Europe. Most of them, maybe even all of them, don't know the first think about the Bronx Bombers. I do acknowledge that Manchester United is a remarkably good team...anyone who hates a great team yet denies their greatness is hard to take seriously as a sports fan.
Back to the 2nd half, Man. City vs QPR. The unthinkable happened. QPR scored again. The underdogs snatched the lead. This would ensure City would not win the title and QPR would not be relegated, they would stay in the Premier League and get all the advantages (money) that go with being a top-tier team.
As the remaining time slipped away City kept producing scoring opportunities but no goals. The 90 minutes of full time came and passed. It was announced that there would be at least 5 extra minutes of stoppage time. This is time added on at the discretion of the referee to make up for time lost to injuries, substitutions, goal celebrations etc.
1:15 into that 5 minutes of added time Manchester City struck back.
Edin Dzeko headed home off a corner kick. All tied at 2, but that's still only good enough for 2nd place in the Premier League. Manchester United would still win the title.
Goals in soccer can be hard to come by. Many American soccer-haters use this as a prime argument against the sport that the other 6 billion people in the world consider the best. I suspect some of these people prefer books that have lots of pictures too. To get one goal in extra time just to tie things up is pretty unlikely.
You can guess what happened next. 3:20 into that extra time Manchester City's Sergio Aguero latched on to a slick pass in the penalty area and slotted it home. It's difficult to describe how impossible it is to imagine a team, being down 2-1 at the 90-minute mark, yet pulling off a 3-2 win in extra time.
In Sunderland, United's game was over. They thought they had won the title again,only to get the unbelievable news that City had performed a sports miracle. At the same time, a team called Bolton Wanderers gave up a late equalizing goal. They needed a win, so they became the third team relegated. That meant QPR, who gave away a game they fought so hard to win, actually got word that they would stay in the Premier League. Both teams were celebrating after that thrilling ending to their match.
Nobody celebrates like a champion. Here's Manchester City in sky blue with captian Vincent Kompany holding the league trophy.
Think of any amazing finish you've seen to any close contest in any sport. As this finish gets analyzed and tossed around for the next few days it seems the sports pundits will have to put it right up there near the top of the list of incredible comebacks.
I'm not really a Manchester City fan but today around the world, hundreds of millions probably were for those remarkable five minutes...except the ones left wearing red, and seeing red, the fans of Manchester United.
We'll talk again soon.