Day miracle came true at Eastlands
Mancini believes The Citizens truly deserve to wear champions mantle
ROBERTO Mancini celebrated Manchester City’s first English league title in 44 years with a succinct summary of his team’s 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers at Eastlands – “a crazy finish for a crazy season”.
City scored twice in injury time, through Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero, to make sure they won the |title on goal difference from Manchester United, whose 1-0 victory at Sunderland had concluded seconds before the final goal at the Etihad.
“That was a crazy finish for a crazy season,” said Mancini after The Citizens won the title on goal difference. “I’ve never seen a final (match) like this.
“The best team won the title. I think we played the best football, scored most goals, beat United two times. When you beat them twice, when you score more goals than them, let in less goals, then you deserve it.
“I am very proud of my players. They wanted to win this title and they worked hard for this, they were working until the last second of the last day.
“To beat a strong team like United is fantastic. I think it will change the history of this club and for this we should be proud.”
City captain Vincent Kompany, referencing the many occasions on which United have won trophies in such dramatic circumstances, also coined a neat phrase to sum up events at Eastlands.
“Miracles do happen in Manchester,” he said. “But on this side of the road, this time.
“This is one of the best moments in my life but please never again this way, please. We have been so good this season, we have been incredible, especially at home. Then all of a sudden in this game we couldn’t get through.
“But for some reason we have done it before this season and I never stopped believing. Never ever did I stop believing.
“When we scored that goal, it reminded me of the game against Tottenham when we won [3-2] in the last minute and against Sunderland, we came back from two down [to draw 3-3]. We have done it before so we had no reason to not believe.”
Among Mancini’s many achievements, his ability to take on United manager Alex Ferguson in the realm of mind games has been particularly impressive.
For many weeks, until a pivotal win at Newcastle United in the penultimate game, Mancini had insisted United were overwhelming favourites and City had no hope of winning the title.
“I never believed this,” said Mancini. “I said this because I wanted to take the pressure off us for three or four games because I was sure we would have another chance before the end of the season.
“For us, it was important to arrive at the derby [won 1-0 by City last month] three points behind and it was important to take all the pressure off.”
In a remarkable game, Pablo Zabaleta’s late first-half goal looked like handing City control, only for Djibril Cisse to equalise early in the second half.
After 54 minutes, Joey Barton – QPR’S controversial former City midfielder – was red-carded for elbowing Carlos Tevez off the ball before kicking Aguero from behind as he left the field.
Astonishingly, the 10 men of Rangers took the lead through Jamie Mackie after 65 minutes before City’s stunning comeback.
“I think for us it was really important to win this championship. In the future, Manchester City can have a big future,” said Mancini when asked about the balance of power in Manchester football.
“But we’re happy because this is the first [league] trophy in 44 years.
“I hope we can continue to win. I am happy Sir Alex says he feels two or three years younger because of the competition. I hope he feels 10 years younger soon.”
Mark Hughes, the QPR manager who Mancini replaced at City in December 2009, paid tribute to the effort of his players, although he declined to address the future of Barton.
“He should have been sent off, without a shadow of a doubt. Absolutely,” said Hughes.
“I haven’t seen the incident and I haven’t spoken to Joey but people who saw it were saying he had to go.
“There were a lot of people on the pitch and you don’t want to see those scenes. But we didn’t allow that to disrupt what we were trying to do and went up the other end of the pitch and scored a fantastic goal.”
The consolation for Hughes in losing a game to two injury-time goals came when the final score from Bolton Wanderers’ 2-2 draw at Stoke City confirmed that Rangers had avoided relegation by one point.
“It’s a huge achievement, because people have no idea what I walked into, to be perfectly honest,” said Hughes, who took over halfway through the season.
“And to be able to bring the group together and galvanise them, and you saw what they were able to produce today in unbelievable circumstances, I think it shows great credit to QPR.” — SAPA-AFP