Manchester City go into the final match of the season, knowing that three points against Aston Villa will see them clinch a second successive Premier League title. With Liverpool breathing down their necks, City’s result will be crucial, knowing they cannot rely on the reds dropping any points or Wolves doing them any favours.
It’s not the first time City have been in this situation, and most likely won’t be the last, and here, we take a look at some instances from the past where the final day result has been crucial to the blues successes.
11th May 1985
Second Division City were fighting for promotion. The blues were third in the league on 71 points, with Portsmouth on the same number, Blackburn in fifth on 70, and Leeds and Brighton on 69. Any one of the five could have joined Oxford United and Birmingham City in gaining promotion.
The blues were at home to Charlton and knew their destiny was in their own hands. And City turned on the style in front of a packed Maine Road as David Phillips and Andy May gave the blues a 2-0 lead after just 15 minutes. Then three goals in an incredible four-minute spell put City 5-0 up and on course for the top flight. Jim Melrose and Paul Simpson scored in the 56th and 57th minute, with Phillips completing a brace just two minutes later.
Although Charlton pulled a goal back with five minutes remaining, it was City who were returning to the top-flight to send the 47,000-crowd ecstatic.
13th May 1989
Valley Parade was the setting for another final day promotion push, but City had been struggling to get over the line. One win in four matches had allowed Crystal Palace to close the gap to just three points, and City needed a solitary point at Bradford to clinch promotion. If the blues lost and Palace won by four clear goals, it would be the Eagles going up and not City.
And, in typical City style, the blues had most of the play but fell behind when Mark Ellis gave the home side a first half lead.
City piled forward, but a mixture of poor finishing, desperate defending and fortunate goalkeeping kept the blues at bay. Palace were beating Birmingham 4-1 at Selhurst Park and, because of crowd trouble, their game would go on longer than City’s. With just a few minutes of the season remaining, City keeper Paul Cooper started a move that would end in promotion.
Plucking the ball out of the air, Cooper threw a pass to Nigel Gleghorn, who in turn, found Paul Moulden. The striker released David White down the left and his cross into the box was met by Trevor Morley, who clipped the ball into the back of the goal and City were going up.
7th May 1994.
In the Premier League’s second season, City found themselves at the wrong end of the table. The blues were still three points clear of the relegation zone, but results elsewhere could potentially have seen them drop.
So blues fans were on tenterhooks when Sheffield Wednesday took a first half lead at Hillsborough on the final day. Thankfully, Uwe Rosler was on hand three minutes into the second half to equalise and secure the point they needed to be certain of Premier League football for another season.
7th May 2000
After winning promotion through the play-offs last season, City fans were just as shocked as anyone as they went for promotion back to the Premier League. Most blues didn’t think it would be possible, but going into the final day, a win at Blackburn would secure back-to-back promotions and a return to the top-flight.
Ipswich were waiting in the wings should the blues slip up, and by half-time, the Tractor Boys looked like they would steal second place from under the City’s noses. Blackburn were 1-0 up and kept hitting the woodwork before City kicked into action.
Shaun Goater levelled, before an own goal by Christian Dailly put the blues in front. Mark Kennedy made it 3-1 and Paul Dickov, Wembley hero twelve months previous, scored the fourth to send the travelling faithful into delirium.
13th May 2012
This date needs no introduction. Level on points with United, all City had to do was win on the final day of the season against relegation candidates QPR. Easy, right? Pablo Zabaleta gave City a first half lead before QPR levelled early in the second half. Joey Barton was then sent off, before QPR took the lead.
The devastated City fans couldn’t hide their emotions, but when Edin Dzeko levelled in injury time, the faithful suddenly found some hope. As the crowd roared the blues on, Mario Balotelli slipped the ball through to some Argentine bloke, who fired home to give City a 3-2 win and break United’s hearts.
11th May 2014.
City like leaving title parties to the final day, and in 2014, City had somehow got to the Premier League summit going into the final day.
Liverpool were two points behind City and all the blues had to do was beat West Ham at home to take the title. This time, there were no such last-minute heroics as the blues cruised to a 2-0 victory. Samir Nasri put City in front, and Vincent Kompany sealed the win early in the second half to hack Liverpool off for the first time.
12th May 2019
City and Liverpool locked horns again for the Premier League title, and going into the final day in 2019, the blues were ahead by a solitary point. City travelled to Brighton and found themselves a goal down in the 27th minute.
Liverpool fans celebrated upon hearing the news, only to fall silent again 60 minutes later as Sergio Aguero equalised for City. Aymeric Laporte put the blues in front seven minutes before half-time, and second half goals from Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan secured a 4-1 win and another Premier League title to hack Liverpool off for a second time.
Will City make it a hat-trick over title wins over their nearest rivals this weekend?