For those of you who were not glued to your TV sets or computer screens this morning, it would be hard to do justice to the sheer emotion I felt watching the final Sunday in the English Premier League. As I discussed in recent posts this has been an exciting season in the EPL, and today's action would decide the championship, Champions League berths, and a relegation spot. Who would have known that all three would have been decided in a matter of just five minutes?
To set the stage...Manchester City and Manchester United came into today tied atop the table. City held the all-important goal differential tie-breaker, meaning a win would end their 44-year drought in winning the top league title. United needed to win and root for Queens Park Rangers to beat their cross-town rival; QPR was playing for something just as important - their survival in the top league. A win and they would remain in the EPL, while a loss or tie and they would risk relegation.
City took a 1-0 lead into the halftime break. Early in the second half, QPR tied things up and the stress level for the Citizens skyrocketed. Moments later, QPR went down a man when often controversial Joey Barton was shown a red card for an embarrassing elbow, and all seemed in City's favor. QPR rallied after that incident and took a 2-1 lead. As the City-QPR match went into stoppage time, United finished off its victory over Sunderland and started hearing that City was down with just a few minutes remaing. Then the comeback heard around the sports world began.
Edin Dzeko headed in a corner kick two minutes into stoppage time, giving some life to the Manchester City crowd. Less than two minutes later, Sergio Aguero capitalized off some nice work from teammate Mario Balotelli to put one past the QPR keeper and set off chaos in the stands and on Twitter, where my soccer followers were screaming (non-capital letter tweets were rare) and non-soccer followers were asking why their Twitter feeds were filled with nonsense like "Amazing Aguero" and "Miracle in Manchester."
Other important items to note from today's EPL action:
1. QPR's loss was eased slightly by Bolton's tie, meaning QPR remains in the top league. Relegated teams are Bolton, Blackburn, and Wolverhampton.
2. Arsenal's victory clinched them third place and a berth in next year's Champions League along with City and United.
3. Tottenham finished fourth, meaning they will also be in the Champions League - unless Chelsea wins the CL title over Bayern Munich this coming Saturday and claims an automatic berth into next year's tournament.
We witnessed a sports miracle today - two goals in three minutes decided a major sports championship in the world's most popular sport. The number people I know who claim soccer is a boring sport has dwindled in recent years, but there are still quite a few out there. I challenge any of them to sit through a recording of today's EPL action and say with a straight face that they still believe it. All they need to do is watch those last five minutes of the City-QPR match and they will see that soccer is not only the world's most popular sport...it is also the most exciting.