Painting Manchester blue
Delirious Manchester City fans painted the town blue last night after the most astonishing two minutes in Premier League history.
City were staring down the barrel of a 2-1 defeat to QPR as 90 minutes came and went.
Bitter rivals Man United were preparing to lift yet another League title with a 1-0 win at Sunderland.
Then deep into injury time, it all went berserk. At 4.51pm City substitute Edin Dzeko headed an equaliser. At 4.52pm the final whistle blew at Sunderland.
And at 4.53pm, City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero fired City ahead — and handed the club its first league title in 44 years.
Jubilant City fans could barely believe their eyes. Chris Lee, 42, said: “God must be a Man City fan! Talk about divine intervention. It truly is a miracle.”
The gut-wrenching finale came at the end of a topsy-turvy season that has been described as the most exciting of all time.
City and United have slogged it out for the top slot since August — taking it in turns to grab the lead.
At the foot of the table a half-dozen teams desperately scrapped for points to avoid relegation.
And Arsenal, Spurs, Newcastle and Chelsea fought a ding-dong battle for third and fourth place - and a chance of a money-spinning Champions League adventure next season.
All three titanic struggles went to the wire yesterday on a truly memorable final day. As the referees at grounds around the country blew the final whistle there were jubilant celebrations by supporters of Man City, Arsenal and Spurs.
QPR fans were also delighted despite their defeat — after escaping the drop by a whisker.
There was disappointment for Man United, pipped to the title on goal difference, and Newcastle, who missed out on Europe.
But the deepest dejection was reserved for Bolton fans, who saw their side relegated after a 2-2 draw at Stoke alongside Blackburn and Wolves.
City’s home clash with QPR provided more nail-gnawing tension in 97-odd minutes yesterday than you get in most entire seasons.
City went ahead before QPR levelled against the run of play.
Then QPR’s captain Joey Barton — a former City favourite — was red carded for apparently elbowing Carlos Tevez.
Barton, who served a jail sentence for assault, kicked Aguero and tried to headbutt City skipper Vincent Kompany as he left the pitch. But despite being down to ten men, QPR stunned City fans when Jamie Mackie gave them the lead during a rare attack.
The West London side held out as City laid siege to their goal for the next 25 minutes — until that incredible finale.
The trophy was presented at the Etihad Stadium by legends Tony Book and Mike Summerbee, stalwarts of the last City team to take the title. City’s Italian manager Roberto Mancini said: “It’s incredible — crazy season, crazy final.”
Mancini was carried around the stadium on his players’ shoulders as fans cheered themselves hoarse.
Kompany said: “This feeling is indescribable.”
Thousands of City fans packed Manchester’s pubs and bars last night as they celebrated.
Andrew Holland told how he will now make good on his promise to wed partner Linda Flynn. He said: “I said if we win the League, we’ll get married. It’s champagne tonight and planning the wedding.”
Joan Cadman, 73, said: “All these years without winning have been dreadful. I’m ecstatic now.”
Mark Dalton said: “I’ve been waiting 44 years for this. Now it’s seven days of continuous drinking for me.”
Mancini’s players were planning to party until 4am after the club splashed out £60,000 for a celebration at a city centre venue. On the red side of town, it was a different story. United fans were distraught at having the title snatched from their hands in a mad two minutes.
At Old Trafford Terry Berkley said: “It feels like the end of the world. Just a couple of minutes and we’d have been champions.
“There is not a word invented to describe how bad I feel.”
Liam Ward added: “I can’t believe it — we were two minutes from being champions and we lost it.” United manager Sir Alex Ferguson congratulated City — but not before having a final dig.
He said: “Everybody expected City to win. But they did it against ten men for half an hour and with five extra minutes to help them.
“But I congratulate City on winning the league. Anybody who wins it deserves it, because it’s a long haul.” - www.thesun.co.uk