For Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson, 2012 is up there with some of the club's worst years under the Scot. 1989, replete with a 5-1 loss at Manchester City and that banner could have been the end of Ferguson after three years and no trophies at Old Trafford. 1995 included losing the league on the final day, an FA Cup final loss and the sale of Mark Hughes, Paul Ince and Andrei Kanchelskis. How about 2005? The Glazer family completed its takeover of the club, the football was dire, Roy Keane left and United were eliminated from the Champions League at the group stage. 2012's awfulness for Reds hinged on one moment deep into stoppage-time as City clutched the most extraordinary title win since 1989.
With no Champions League football and an early but chastening exit to Liverpool in the FA Cup behind them (this would also become the first year United have not played at Wembley in the years it has hosted football matches since 1991), United went into the final day of the Premier League season as underdogs. On Easter Sunday, the Reds were eight points clear with six games remaining but surrendered feebly at Wigan three days later before throwing away a two-goal lead at home to draw 4-4 with Everton the following week. City meanwhile had won all their games since their 1-0 defeat to Arsenal on 8 April and captain Vincent Kompany settled a pivotal Manchester derby in the clubs' antepenultimate league fixture, enabling the Blues to leapfrog United by virtue of their superior goal difference.
Six days later City edged out Newcastle 2-0 while United swatted Swansea by the same scoreline ahead of the final day. Ferguson's side travelled to Sunderland while City hosted QPR, fighting to avoid relegation but winless on the road all season. The winners of the 114th league champions of England seemed like a fait accompli. But what unfolded was an extraordinary set of events with one possible and unlikely comeback eventually trounced by one of the greatest comebacks.
- 20 mins: Wayne Rooney sends United two points clear at the top by giving the Reds the lead at Sunderland.
- 39 mins: Nervous silence turns to bedlam at Eastlands as Pablo Zabaleta puts City ahead to put them back on top on goal difference.
- 48 mins: Djibril Cisse stuns City to level for QPR as Ferguson's side go two points clear with 42 minutes of normal time to remaining.
- 66 mins: After Joey Barton is sent off for QPR, Jamie Mackie sensationally puts the Rs ahead. United are now three points clear with 24 minutes of normal time remaining.
- 90 + 2 mins: Edin Džeko levels for City but United are still leading and remain two points clear with just moments left.
- 90 + 3 mins: Howard Webb blows the final whistle at the Stadium of Light. United are less than three minutes away from winning their 20th title.
- 90 + 4 mins: Sergio Agüero pounces to complete a remarkable stoppage-time comeback for City to win the club its first league title since 1968.