Finish to Premier League season defies description

Screw the Super Bowl, and never mind the playoffs currently in progress in both the NHL and NBA.
The most dramatic finish you’ll see in sports this year happened Sunday in England as the 2011/12 English Premier League soccer season came to an incredible conclusion that would be rejected by every Hollywood studio if you wrote a script for it.
Heading into the final day of the season, arch-rivals Manchester City and Manchester United were tied for the lead in points. But with City holding the advantage on goal differential, all they needed to do to win their first top-flight title in 44 years was to defeat the lowly Queen’s Park Rangers at home.
At half-time, it looked as if Manchester City was in control of their own destiny as they held a 1-0 lead. But the Rangers netted a pair of goals early in the second half to move in front 2-1—putting the title back into Manchester United’s grasp.
Despite a goal from Edin Dzeko in the 91st minute that tied the game up at 2-2, City still needed one more goal as time expired, especially since their cross-town rivals had blanked Sunderland 1-0 and already had one hand on their 20th league trophy.
Nearly seconds after that game had ended, though, Sergio Aguero barrelled his way into the 18-yard box and blasted a shot into the back of the net, giving City a 3-2 win and capturing the title in the most dramatic manner possible.
Legendary soccer play-by-play man Martin Tyler enthused, “I swear you’ll never see anything like this ever again,” as Etihad Stadium went absolutely mental over what had transpired, which is a feeling that Winnipeg Free Press soccer columnist Jerrad Peters agrees with.
“You have a nine-month season that came down to not only the final Sunday of the year, and not only the second half, but it came down to two goals in injury time that immediately turned the fate of one club winning the title to another,” Peters explained.
“In that respect, it’s not only the most exciting finish to a season since the Premier League began 20 years ago, but also in the history of top-flight football in England,” he added.
Although the finish itself certainly was one that will never be forgotten, the season-long title chase between the two squads had more twists and turns than an episode of “Coronation Street.”
Having led the 20-team league for most of the way, and becoming the title favourites after a 6-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford back on Oct. 23, Manchester City had a terrible spell in March and early April which saw them fall from first place and trail their cross-town rivals by eight points on Easter weekend.
But United soon suffered their own drop in form over the next couple of weeks, falling 1-0 to Wigan Athletic and then yielding two late goals to draw Everton 4-4, to put Manchester City right back into the mix.
“When you look at Manchester United, who are the Goliath of the Premier League, and all that they have accomplished over the years, and to think that they conceded an eight-point lead late in the season is pretty staggering,” said Kristian Jack, an analyst for “The Footy Show” on The Score.
“And to make things worse for their fans, the team that caught them and regained the momentum was their arch-rivals in City, who they had been beating up on for years and years,” he added.
Prior to Sunday’s historic finish, the biggest turning point in the EPL season came at Etihad Stadium on April 30, when Manchester City defeated Manchester United 1-0 to move back into a tie for the league lead.
“That was the game that finally proved to us that Manchester City can show up for the big game,” said “Footy Show” host James Sharman.
“The 6-1 win they had over United earlier in the year was more of a novelty win with the high score, but this game was a real football win as they got the big goal when it counted.
“In the past, they were the type of team that couldn’t handle the pressure,” noted Sharman. “But they finally did and it proved to be an important result for City in their recent history.”
Looking towards next season, both Manchester clubs are expected to make moves during the off-season to strength their clubs further, with both squads said to be targeting 21-year-old Belgian mid-field sensation Eden Hazard during the upcoming summer transfer window.
With both sides finishing well ahead of their nearest rivals in the standings (third-place Arsenal was 22 points back in the final league table), there’s a fear that City and United could end up being untouchable for years to come in England.
But Brendan Dunlop, a host for the Live @ The Score, feels those worries won’t be realized.
“You’re not going to see something right away like you see in Spain at the moment, where Barcelona and Real Madrid are so far ahead of everyone,” he reasoned.
“While I do think that United and City are going to be the teams that will be considered the favourites, I think that teams like Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool will still be in the mix,” Dunlop noted.
“And I think in a few years’ time we will see a four-team battle once again.”

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