Wayne Rooney scored the only goal as Manchester United beat Sunderland at the Stadium of Light but were denied the title in the most dramatic end to a season English football has ever witnessed.
Going into the last game needing to better City’s result to win the league, United were 20 seconds away from lifting title number 20, before Sergio Aguero’s strike condemned them to second spot.
United finished second following a 1-0 win against Sunderland, courtesy of a Wayne Rooney goal and will look back at games against Wigan and Everton in despair.
With the odds stacked against his men, Ferguson deployed an offensive line up with Jones, Ferdinand, Evans and Evra at the back, Carrick, Scholes, Young and Valencia in midfield and Giggs supporting Rooney up-front.
United started positively, Jones sending his header just over the bar following a corner, before Rooney broke the deadlock after 20 minutes.
Scholes and Carrick exchanged passes at the edge of the box before releasing Jones, whose cross evaded Sunderland’s back four before finding Rooney at the far post.
The United number 10 made no mistake and gave United the lead.
He could have doubled the lead ten minutes later, but his freekick clipped the top of the crossbar.
Former United man Fraizer Campbell squandered an excellent chance at the other end, sending his volley wide.
United could have had a second before halftime but Rooney’s flick following Ashley Young’s shot was only but a whisker wide of the post.
Zabaleta’s goal just before halftime seemed to have given City the title, but the travelling Reds were buoyed by the news coming from the Etihad as QPR took an unexpected 2-1 lead.
United continued to waste chance after chance as Mignolet superbly denied Rooney and Giggs, while Scholes saw his thunderbolt effort crashing against the post.
Sunderland had little to offer and United seemed poised for another title celebration before Dzeko and Aguero turned joy into despair, hope into agony.
For all City’s money, if there’s a team that can bounce back from a blow so cruel, it’s United.
Despite a collection of stars, City only won the title on goal difference and that’s something United will look back on in a few weeks.
Finishing second after an injury ravaged campaign, against a team that has spent £500 million in five years isn’t as bad as it might sound, and the today’s pain will undoubtedly spur United on.
This summer will be probably the most critical United have ever faced but the spirit is there for all to see as Fergie acknowledged defeat with a shrug of his shoulders before saluting the travelling contingent.
Down perhaps, definitely not out.
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