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Live Reporting

Chris Bevan

All times stated are UK

  1. Post update

    It is exactly eight years since the most dramatic final day of the season in Premier League history and, arguably, football full stop.

    History tells us that Manchester City ended up as champions, but only after an incredible afternoon of twists and turns and a barely believable climax in injury time.

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    You already know who was City’s title-winning hero, but this is how events unfolded at Etihad Stadium, with the story told through the eyes of Micah Richards, Nedum Onouha and Joleon Lescott - three close friends who found themselves in opposing camps.

    Match of the Day commentator Guy Mowbray and legendary former City striker and chairman Franny Lee share their memories too, along with some reaction and analysis from the day itself.

  2. The scenario

    On 13 May, 2012, Manchester City - who had trailed Manchester United by eight points with six games to go - are now above them and top on goal difference, with one game left.

    If City win their final game against QPR, who need a point to be sure of avoiding relegation and are led by former City manager Mark Hughes, then Roberto Mancini’s side will be champions of England for the first time since 1968.

    Anything less, and United can overhaul them and retain their title by beating mid-table Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

  3. What Sir Alex Ferguson said

    Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson talking about the situation on the eve of the game: “You just hope something stupid happens."

    Top of the table
  4. 'I am City through and through'

    Nedum Onuoha

    Nedum Onuoha
    Image caption: Onuoha joined City in 1996, made his first-team debut in 2004 aged 17, and made 115 appearances for the club between 2004 and 2012

    QPR defender Nedum Onuoha was a City academy graduate who had only left the club in January: It was a very weird feeling before the game.

    I was a City fan - I’m City through and through - and here I was coming back for the first time to a place I considered my home, a club I had been with for 15 years from the age of 10, with so much at stake for both teams and me personally too.

    Onuho signs for QPR
    Image caption: Onuoha signed for QPR in the final week of the 2012 January transfer window

    I had only been at QPR for three months and it was a stressful three months, because we were losing a lot and it was a tough place to be.

    By the time I left QPR (in 2018) I loved the club and life in London too but, at that moment, that was not my mindset. I was playing for a team I didn’t know - I probably couldn’t have told you the name of every member of staff who was on the trip with us.

    Compare that to the people I saw from the moment I arrived at the Etihad. From security guards, cleaners and catering staff to the coaching staff and the players, I knew every single person there.

    Onuoha after his final QPR appearance in 2018
    Image caption: Onuoha pictured with his family after his final QPR appearance in 2018. He made 224 appearances for the club, and now plays for Real Salt Lake City in the MLS
  5. 'Nedum would have been devastated to leave'

    Micah Richards

    Like Onuoha, fellow defender Micah Richards had come through City's academy: I’d known Nedum since I joined City aged 14, and he is still one of my best mates now.

    What? So he actually only left us permanently in that same season we won the league? I didn’t remember that.

    Wow. I know he had played some games for us that season as well. He would have been devastated to leave.

    Nedum Onuoha and Micah Richards
    Image caption: Nedum Onuoha and Micah Richards had been together at City since Richards joined in 2002, aged 14
  6. 'At the time, I really didn't like Mancini'

    Nedum Onuoha

    Looking back now, I don’t resent Roberto Mancini. But, at that time, I did.

    He had frozen me out but it wasn’t necessarily just a football thing - more the way he was as a human being towards me. I never understood why, and I still wish he had done things differently even though I have really enjoyed my career since.

    I really didn’t like him then, but there were still members of staff at City - and lots of players - that I did like.

  7. 'Come on, just let us have this one'

    Micah Richards

    I had some banter with Nedum before the game, saying ‘come on, just let us have this one', but at the same time I did not want to disrespect him, because there was so much at stake.

  8. 'I did not want City to win at my expense'

    Nedum Onuoha

    Yeah, Micah got in touch. We are good mates and this was the biggest game both of us had had in our careers. It maybe still is.

    It had been horrible to leave City, but to come back and to know my own personal fate was now going to come down to whether they won the league or not, was a tough thing to get my head around.

    Bottom of the table

    We needed a point to be safe because our goal difference was so much better than Bolton's, but I think everyone was expecting United to beat Sunderland, so City needed to win.

    I could think of so many scenarios before the game but the one which I really didn’t want to happen was to be sent down to the Championship at my new club by my old friends at my old team in my own city.

    I wanted City to win the league, but there was no chance I wanted it to be at my expense.

  9. TEAM NEWS - Balotelli is back in the squad

    Image caption: Balotelli had been sent off at the very end of City's last defeat, against Arsenal on Easter weekend, and had not played since serving his suspension

    City are unchanged for the fourth successive game. Mario Balotelli, who has not played a single minute since being sent off in a defeat against Arsenal on 8 April, is back in the squad and on the bench after being left out of the 18 for their win at Newcastle seven days earlier.

    Man City (4-4-1-1): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; Barry, Toure, Nasri, Silva; Tevez; Aguero

    Subs: Pantilimon, Richards, Kolarov, Milner, De Jong, Dzeko, Balotelli

    Rangers are managed by Mark Hughes, the former Manchester United striker who was sacked by City in December 2009 and replaced by Mancini.

    Five of the players who start for City are Hughes signings. Along with Joey Barton and Shaun Wright-Phillips, Onuoha is one of three former City academy players in the QPR starting XI.

    QPR XI (4-4-2): Kenny; Onuoha, Hill, Ferdinand, Taiwo; Wright-Phillips, Derry, Barton, Mackie; Cisse, Zamora

    Subs: Cerny, Gabbidon, Traore, Taarabt, Buzaky, Campbell, Bothroyd

    Referee: Mike Dean

  10. 'When I saw I wasn't starting, I was raging'

    Micah Richards

    When I found out I wasn’t starting, I was raging, absolutely raging.

    That’s not me being disrespectful to Pablo Zabaleta, who was at right-back instead of me. Zaba and I were good mates and I am the biggest team player there is.

    But this was just a massive day and if any player tells you they were not bothered about being left out for a game like this, then I am sorry - they are lying.

  11. Mancini sticks with his lucky XI

    Joleon Lescott

    Roberto was and probably still is very superstitious, so we knew the team was going to be the same as it was against Newcastle.

  12. 'Being left out was like a knife through my heart'

    Micah Richards

    Yeah, Mancini was paranoid that if he changed anything, it would cost us.

    I knew that, so I sort of knew I might not be playing but because we needed to win, because we were at home which is where I had a lot of my best games with the crowd behind me, and because I was better going forward than Zaba was, I got it in my head that I was definitely going to play.

    When my name was not on that team sheet, it felt like someone had put a knife right through my heart.

    Before the game and during the warm-up, I could not even look at Mancini or the rest of my players. I was just distraught.

    Mario Balotelli and Micah Richards
    Image caption: Richards warms up with Mario Balotelli before the game
  13. 'There will be moments of doubt for them'

    QPR boss Mark Hughes talking about City just before kick-off: "There will be moments of doubt for them."

  14. KICK-OFF

    QPR get the game under way at a sunny Etihad Stadium

  15. 'QPR did not concede many late goals'

    Guy Mowbray

    Match of the Day commentator

    At Etihad Stadium: Looking back at my pre-match notes now, there was no suggestion of what was to come. City were unbeaten at home in the Premier League that season and had won 17 of their 18 home games. They had also gone 28 home league games unbeaten.

    QPR, meanwhile, had lost six in a row away from home and had gone 12 without a win on the road. They had the most defeats and fewest points in the top flight away from home.

    One other thing I had written, and I have put it in bold in my notes, was this: ‘Coming into the game, QPR had only conceded four goals in the last 10 minutes of their 37 games in the PL that season. The fewest of any team'.

  16. GOAL - Sunderland 0-1 Man Utd (Wayne Rooney, 20 min)

    Wayne Rooney scores for Man Utd

    Manchester United take the lead at Stadium of Light, as Wayne Rooney scores with a close-range header. They move above City at the top of the table.

    Top of the table
  17. GOAL - Man City 1-0 QPR (Pablo Zabaleta, 39 min)

    Zabaleta celebrates after putting City ahead

    Clty are not playing well, but they are ahead, and back on top of the table.

    Yaya Toure plays in Pablo Zabaleta and his shot slips through Paddy Kenny’s hands. It is the Argentine’s first goal since May 2011.

    Top of the table
  18. 'Why does it have to be Zaba?!'

    Micah Richards

    So there I am on the bench, and who goes and scores the first goal? That knife is still stuck in my heart, and now they have twisted it to finish me off!

    But, as frustrated as I was, I still thought I would definitely be coming on, I always did. Mancini loved me and he often liked to change to three at the back in the second half of important games, so he would bring on another defender.

    I’d come on against Newcastle in the previous game and made a goal-saving block in the last minute from a Shola Ameobi shot with the score at 1-0.

    Now we were winning, I was thinking ‘I am going to get on’.

    Micah celebrates
    Image caption: Micah celebrates with Yaya Toure after he has scored City's second goal in their vital win at Newcastle. City had broken away to score straight from the corner that followed Richards' goal-saving block
  19. 'We were huge on clean sheets'

    Joleon Lescott

    One of the strengths of that team was at the back. Joe Hart had kept 17 clean sheets that season and we had only conceded 27 goals in 37 games.

    We were huge on clean sheets - we prided ourselves on them. I don’t know if other teams do it, but we used to have our own defensive meetings before every game to go over the previous one and where we needed to improve.

    So there is no way we relaxed at 1-0, and there was no change in our mentality. We wanted another clean sheet.

    Joe Hart and Joleon Lescott