LONDON: Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany said he never stopped believing his side could beat Queens Park Rangers and win the Premier League title even when they trailed 2-1 going into stoppage time yesterday.
Goals from Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero in two unforgettable minutes duly secured an astonishing 3-2 home victory to earn City their first league title for 44 years as they pipped Manchester United on goal difference.
“We’ve done it before this season and I never stopped believing,” Kompany told Sky Sports.
“Never, ever, and when Edin scored that goal, it just reminded me of a few moments this season when against Tottenham (Hotspur) we scored in the last minute and against Sunderland we came from two down.
“You want to say it’s the personal moment of your life, but if I’m honest, please never again this way.
“We’ve been so good this season, especially at home, then all of a sudden today even though our first half was really good, we just couldn’t get through.
“It’s not sunk in yet, I don’t know what happened at the end to be honest, it was such a huge mess.”
Aguero repaid a large chunk of his £38million transfer fee when he showed astonishing calmness to skip past a tackle and rifle home the winner seconds from the end just as United, who had beaten Sunderland 1-0 away, seemed poised to retain the title.
Kompany said that it was not just City’s riches that attracted some of the game’s biggest names.
“I’m so happy for the guys, because we’ve given so much this season,” he said.
“It’s not us just coming here for the money, we’ve dreamed of this all our lives, when we were kids, when we were nothing and had no money. And now we are champions and that’s what it’s about for us.”
City manager Roberto Mancini was not so sure, screaming in frustration on the touchline as his team were unable to turn their total dominance into chances against their 10-man opponents who defended superbly as they fought to avoid relegation.
“Never, never like this, incredible. Five minutes to the end, I didn’t think we could win the game, but we wanted this title and we deserved it,” he said.
“It was incredible, impossible, we deserved to win this game, we had a lot of chances, it was incredible for me and the supporters and I’m very happy for them.
“For us, it was really important to win this championship and City have a big future.
“It’s the perfect finale for a crazy season. Crazy game and crazy last two minutes.”
United manager Alex Ferguson was similarly taken aback by the most extraordinary close to a Premier League season, but still found time for a dig at the side he previously dismissed “noisy neighbours”.
“Nobody expected that. Everybody expected City to win, but they did it against 10 men for half-an-hour and with five extra minutes to help them,” he said after Wayne Rooney’s goal had put him in sight of the club’s 20th title.
“But I congratulate City on winning the league. Anybody who wins it deserves it, because it’s a long haul. At the end of our game, our players didn’t actually know the results. Now, they’re really disappointed, I’m glad to say.
“There’s no other way they should be. They conducted themselves brilliantly today. Their performance level was good. I’m pleased at our performance this season. 89 points would win most leagues. It wasn’t our turn today.”
It was all looking much more straightforward when Pablo Zabaleta put City ahead late in the first half with his only goal of the season, but the defender admitted he thought his team had blown it against a Rangers side who avoided relegation anyway after Bolton Wanderers failed to win at Stoke City.
“At 2-1, I thought the game was gone, but right now I’m dreaming and I don’t want to wake up,” he said. “The most important thing is when you believe. When you fight to the end, sometimes you can get it, and I’m really proud for this group; players, staff and fans.
“You have to try to the end. We won the game in the last five minutes. It’s crazy, but I think we deserved it. We have fantastic players, and for this club it is a great step forward. Europe’s next.”
Mike Summerbee, a key member of the last City side to win the league in 1968, seemed in a state of shock.
“It was quite unbelievable, you couldn’t write that,” he said. “I thought we were out of it, then things change. I can’t go through things like that at my age.”
Former teammate Francis Lee said it was high time a new generation took over.
“I think we’ve got a new band of legends now,” he said. “We can retire into the legends club and just sit there with our feet up now.”
Arsenal claimed third spot and a Champions League place after coming from 2-1 down to beat West Bromwich Albion 3-2 at The Hawthorns.
Tottenham Hotspur sealed fourth place, and a possible Champions League qualifying tie, by beating Fulham 2-0, while Newcastle United finished fifth after losing 3-1 at Everton.
Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham face an anxious wait, however, as victory for Chelsea in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich would mean they take a spot in next season’s competition and send Tottenham into the Europa League. Chelsea warmed up for next week’s final with a 2-1 win over relegated Blackburn.
Liverpool’s disappointing season ended on a downbeat note with a 1-0 loss at Swansea.