The most watched football league in the world, Barclays English Premier League, undoubtedly had an epic finale to its 2011-12 season. The winner of the year-long battle for glory was decided and sealed in less than five minutes.
While at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland FC’s home ground, Manchester United reigned supreme and won with a goal’s margin, Manchester City produced a game at Etihad Stadium, its home ground, that can only be described as phenomenal. The title holder was to be decided between the two Manchester teams, with City needing a win at home to surpass United, who played away to Sunderland.
Towards the end of the ninety minutes, it looked like United were destined to lift the trophy for the twentieth time. Sir Alex Ferguson, United’s manager for over quarter of a century, looked confident of having done just enough to win both their final game and the title. While Ferguson just waited for the final confirmation of his success through the referee’s final whistle, Roberto Mancini, Manchester City’s manager, hoped for a miracle at Etihad.
As if He heard his prayers, The Almighty granted City that opportunity to prove to the world the existence of a miracle. Edin Dzeko, the Bosnian striker who moved to Manchester City in Jan 2011, emerged as that miracle in the 92nd minute of the 5-minute stoppage time.
A corner kick converted into a brilliant header by Dzeko put some hope into the Citizens. The long-awaited equaliser had finally come. There was still work to be done, however. City needed to win the match to etch their name on the trophy. As would be expected, with just a couple of minutes left on the clock, City attacked incessantly and out of the blue, Sergio Aguero, after the slightest of touches to get a clean shot, created history for City. City, the tortoise in the race, proved their worth at Etihad with late goals, driving Citizens crazy.
On the other side of the battle for the title, United had already finished their match and were awaiting news from City. But in a tragic quirk of fate that rendered him speechless, Ferguson could only wonder what had hit him when he heard the score and success of City at Etihad. He would have almost certainly felt those ‘so-close-yet-so-far’ emotions that give a sense of seeing the finish line of a marathon yet being unable to reach there first. Darkness had suddenly befallen the Stadium of Light, not for Sunderland, who were not in contention for the title, but for Manchester United, who had their victory snatched away by a whisker. United had already taken the shuttle to seventh heaven but were brought back. Manchester had changed colours – from glazing red to sky blue in less than five minutes.