Title agony for Red Devils
Man Utd thought they had their hands on the title after beating Sunderland 1-0, but a dramatic turn of events saw the crown snatched from their grasp.
Last Updated: 13/05/12 6:15pm
Manchester United thought they had their hands on the Premier League title after collecting a 1-0 win at Sunderland, but a dramatic turn of events elsewhere saw the crown snatched from their grasp.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side were always relying on Queens Park Rangers to do them a favour at the Etihad Stadium, but the Rs were unable to take anything off Manchester City as they slipped to a 3-2 defeat in sensational circumstances.
United prevailed at the Stadium of Light courtesy of Wayne Rooney's 35th goal of the season, but they ended the 2011/12 campaign empty-handed.
The Red Devils controlled proceedings for long periods against Sunderland and took the lead on 20 minutes when Rooney was left unmarked to nod home a Phil Jones centre.
The England striker could have had a hat-trick by half-time, but he somehow scuffed wide when presented with a clear sight of goal and saw a delicately clipped free-kick hit the crossbar.
With news filtering through from the Etihad that City were trailing, United took their foot off the gas in the second half and ensured that they collected three points.
It was not enough, though, as late drama back home saw their arch-rivals City crowned top-flight champions.
For much of the opening 45 minutes, there was little doubt about how events would unfold on Wearside, with the visitors dominating for long periods and creating enough chances to have held up their end of the bargain by the time the whistle sounded for the break.
In the event, they led by a single goal, courtesy of Rooney's close-range 20th-minute header from full-back Jones' cross.
The England striker might have claimed a hat-trick inside 14 minutes, but he saw his free-kick come back off the crossbar on the half-hour and then uncharacteristically miskicked with the goal at his mercy four minutes later when Ashley Young's wayward shot arrived perfectly for him.
With 37-year-old Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, 38, running the game from midfield, it seemed only a matter of time before United increased their lead and wrapped up the win.
Mignolet had also had to beat away a well-struck effort from Giggs but as time ran down, the home side started to make an impression.
Their best chance fell to Fraizer Campbell as he ran on to Stephane Sessegnon's 36th-minute cross, but to the relief of Ferguson, the man who sold him to Sunderland, he steered his volley wide of the post.
However, the mood at the Stadium of Light changed as news of City's opener started to filter around to wildly differing responses from the respective sets of supporters.
Antonio Valencia might have lifted the descending gloom for the travelling fans in injury-time when he forced a decent save from Mignolet, but Ferguson's men headed for the dressing room knowing their fate was being decided elsewhere.
United returned determined to kill off the game as quickly as possible, and might have done so within two minutes when Valencia slid Rooney in only for Mignolet to deny him with a brave block.
But the fans behind the Belgian's goal were celebrating within seconds when news of QPR's equaliser sparked a delirious reaction.
Jones glanced a 50th-minute header just wide, but the home side were appealing in vain for a penalty two minutes later after substitute Ahmed Elmohamady was bundled to the ground by Jonny Evans in pursuit of James McClean's cross.
Sunderland were enjoying their best period of the game as United found themselves having to defend deep and in numbers.
But it would have been 2-0 with 59 minutes gone had Craig Gardner not thrown himself into the path of Young's volley from Valencia's teasing cross.
Young tested Mignolet at his near post with a driven cross five minutes later with the tension rising, although there were joyous scenes on the terraces when the travelling fans heard of QPR's second goal.
United were unfortunate not to increase their lead with 14 minutes regaining when Scholes smashed a volley against the foot of the post and Mignolet recovered superbly to tip Giggs' follow-up over the bar.
But as the time ebbed away, the United fans could hardly contain themselves, hoping no news from the blue half of the city was good news.Rooney clipped the outside of the post with a last-minute free-kick and the partying was just about to start when the worst possible news arrived for those of a red persuasion.
|Sunderland||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|2||Shots on Target||7|
|2||Shots off Target||9|
|31.2||1st Half Poss.||68.8|
|39.4||2nd Half Poss.||60.6|