LONDON — THIS LIVE REPORT IS NOW CLOSING after a frenetic end to the Premier League season after a roller-coaster match at the Etihad which saw Manchester City crowned champions after a dramatic fight-back against 10-man QPR which saw the Blues score two goals late goals to secure a 3-2 victory at the Etihad stadium to secure the title on goal difference.
It looked like City would falter at the final hurdle as they struggled to break down a QPR side which overcame the dismissal of their captain Joey Barton for an elbow on Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez.
QPR led after 90 minutes as they managed to convert their two second half chances to overturn Zabaleta's opening strike.
United players thought they were about to lift their fifth title in six years but City mounted a ferocious comeback to break United hearts.
1637 GMT: And what for United? Ferguson has managed to squeeze an extra year out of Scholes and Giggs, but should he to open his chequebook and sign a few big-money signings to close the gap of City, who are sure to get stronger next season? Who should United target? A play-maker like Eden Hazard or a burly striker to complement Rooney?
1635 GMT: What does the future hold for City? With all the Abu Dhabi petro-dollars at their disposal are City on the cusp of a period of dominance over their local rivals. They will surely now turn their attention to winning the Champions League, and the title will vindicate Mancini who has been involved in numerous bust-ups with several players (Balotelli, Tevez)
1632 GMT: Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson must have thought that City had gifted his side the league title, but he was gracious in defeat to the Sky Blues that he once famously described as "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," says Ferguson.
"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 league. It wasn't our turn today," says the wily United coach.
1627 GMT: The biggest roar is reserved for Kompany as he lifts the trophy and the crowd belt out a rendition of the Beatle's 'Hey Jude' as each player parade's the winner's trophy.
1625 GMT: Huge roars of approval from the Etihad crowd as each City player comes up to collect his winner's medal: even Tevez who refused to come off the bench against Bayern Munich in September.
1621 GMT: A tearful Bolton manager Coyle cannot contain his anger with a series of refereeing decisions that he blames for relegation.
"I think when all is said and done we feel aggrieved with what happened today," he says. "Their first goal was as clear a foul as you can see."
1616 GMT: City legends Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee walk out onto the pitch for the trophy presentation which will include the former players forming a guard of honour for the new champions.
1611 GMT: More from Mancini, who is bear-hugged by a tearful Summerbee.
"It was a perfect finish to a crazy season. A crazy two minutes that was a perfect end to the season," adds the Italian coach.
"This is for all our supporters, the club, the chairman and the owner. This is the perfect finale for a crazy season. We dominated this season for 28 games, but when we beat a team like United twice in one season we deserve this," says Mancini.
1609 GMT: Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany tells SKY that he never stopped believing that his side would win the title.
"It's unbelievable but for some reason I always thought we would come back," he says.
"We have been so good at home all season but in the second half we just couldn't get through the QPR defence. Did I give up? No, I never stopped believing. When Edin Dzeko scored to make it 2-2, it reminded me of our late goals against Tottenham and Sunderland," says Kompany.
1605 GMT: City fans will be sending greeting cards to Barton: it was thanks to his moment of madness that so much stoppage was played, allowing City to launch their improbable comeback in injury-time.
1602 GMT:Arsenal finish third after a 3-2 win over WBA. Spurs remain fourth and have to hope that Chelsea do not win the Champions League final or else the White Hart Lane side will be forced to play in the Europa League.
Bolton have been relegated from the top-flight as they were held 2-2 by Stoke. Victory would have guaranteed them another year in the top-flight.
1557 GMT: Mancini can barely contain his joy at the end of the match as he is embraced by his players. "We deserved to win this championship" Mancini tells SKY.
"Crazy season and crazy last two minutes," he adds.
90 + 5 mins: FULL TIME: MANCHESTER CITY HAVE WON THE PREMIER LEAGUE on goal difference.
90 + 4 mins: GOAL. Manchester City 3 QPR 2.
Amazing. City fans cannot believe what they are seeing as Aguero dances his way to the edge of the QPR area and exchanges passes with Balotelli before scoring from close-range.who passes to Aguero
90 + 2 mins: GOAL. Manchester City 2 QPR 2.
Its going to be a frantic three minutes as Dzeko connects with a corner to direct the ball past Kenny. City fans go wild.
90 +1 mins: Kenny really earns his corn with a reflex save from Balotelli. City fans thought the Italian had scored!
90 mins: There will be five minutes of extra time.
90 mins: Stephen Fletcher pulls a goal back for Wolves, who are heading for a 3-2 defeat to Wigan.
89 mins: City have enjoyed the lion's share of possession but cannot breach the QPR rearguard and are reverting to floaty high balls which are hoofed clear.
88 mins: Liverpool's disappointing season gets even worse as Danny Graham swivels on the edge of the area to shoot Swansea into the lead.
86 mins: Mancini is percolating on the sidelines, a whirl of arms and facial expressions as he urges his side forward. He has used all of his subs, what else can his expensively-assembled squad do?
83 mins: Desperate play from City who have normally looked so assured all season. Silva who has often been the creative spark for City lobs a high ball towards Dzeko that Kenny gratefully collects.
79 mins: Emmerson Boyce scores Wigan's third goal against Wolves with a rasping shot that squirms past a crowd of players
78 mins: City have only dropped two points at home all season, but they are heading to their first league defeat at the Etihad against the team with the worst away record.
77 mins: Dzeko twists clear of his marker and his shot is creeping inside the post before a diving fingertip save from Kenny directs the ball out for a corner.
77mins: Stoke's Jon Walters converts a penalty to level the scores against Bolton, much to the delight of the QPR fans.
76 mins: Newcastle pull a goal back against Everton, but is it too little too late for the Magpies as Hibbert scores an own goal
75 mins: A clearly rattled Mancini makes his last change and sends on Balotelli for Tevez.
73 mins: Tevez goes on a mazy run and beats three defenders before hooking his shot wide. A terrible effort after he had created a yard of space with his slalom run.
71 mins: There is still 20 minutes to play but City are struggling to create any real openings and opt to take long-range shots which are not troubling Kenny.
69 mins: Everton take a 3-0 lead against Newcastle as Johnny Heitinga heads from close range.
68 mins: Mancini makes his second change as he throws on Dzeko for Barry. City need two goals to claw back the title.
66 mins: GOAL! Manchester City 1 QPR 2
City fans can barely watch as Traore steams down the left wing before floating a cross for a fast-charging Mackie who outruns the City defence to thump a header into the net! That is huge. City now need two goals or else United will retain their title. Heartbreak for City.
63 mins: Spurs double their lead as Defoe toe-pokes the ball home from the edge of the six-yard box.
60 mins: Mancini is clearly coming to the boil as he squats on the sideline trying to urge his players into another attack
59 mins: Yakubu equalises for Blackburn, as Chelsea allow the Nigeria international a clear header.
56 mins: Lost amid all the Barton madness was a goal at WBA, where Laurent Koscielny gives Arsenal the lead with a close-range effort following a howler from the WBA goalie.
55 mins: RED CARD! The ref consults his assistant and TV replays show that Barton elbowed the Argentinian. The ref has no choice but to show Barton the red card. Barton is furious with the decision and as the red mist descends the midfielder aims a vicious kick at Aguero as he is escorted off the pitch. City players rush out to confront the QPR captain who is clearly irritated with the decision.
54 mins: Was that a penalty? Tevez collapses on the edge of the area after a tussle with Joey Barton on the edge of the area. The linesman lifts his flag...Will he be sent off?
52 mins: City turn the screw and lay siege to the QPR goalmouth but are unable to create an opening and Hills clonks the ball out of play.
50 mins: Zabaleta charges down the right byline and drills in a goal-bound shot which Hill does well to divert out for a corner.
48 mins: GOAL! Manchester City 1 QPR 1
Stunned silence in the Etihad after a horrible mistake by Lescott. The England defender misjudges a high ball and accidentally flicks the ball into the path of Cisse who drills his shot past Hart. United are now in pole position
46 mins:City get the second half under way and go straight for the jugular. Clichy steams forward on an overlap and whips in a cross for Aguero who forces Kenny to claw the ball past his post. That was a lovely run by Clichy to create that opening.
1500 GMT: Wow. That was 19 goals in the first half of all the Premier League matches.
As it currently stands, its advantage City as they remain on track to clinch only their third league title.
Tottenham are currently third, guaranteeing them Champions League football next season. Newcastle have been unable to make any headway against Everton and still lie fifth, one spot behind Arsenal. While QPR are heading out of the Premier League after a late comeback by Bolton.
1458 GMT: Over in the TV studio, former Scotland midfielder Graeme Souness takes aim at the QPR goalie.
"It [Zabaleta's shot] was straight at him. He should have the strength to stop that shot," grumbles Souness.
The referee draws the first half to an end at the Etihad.
Zabaleta's strike was his first goal this season for City, and the goal has really settled the nerves of the City faithful.
45 mins: Bolton take a shock lead against Stoke as Kevin Davies' cross-shot is fumbled by Thomas Sorensen.
43 mins: Mancini makes his first change and sends on De Jong for the limping Toure.
41 mins: Toure is often the driving force behind many of City's attacks but the Ivorian is clearly struggling with a hamstring injury and signals to the bench.
39 mins: GOAL! Manchester City 1 QPR 0
Scenes of ecstasy at the Etihad as a lovely interchange between Silva and Toure creates space for the fast-charging Zabaleta who blasts his shot straight at Kenny, but the goalie cannot control the powerful strike and the ball spills over the line.
38 mins: Bolton show some fighting spirit and grab a messy equaliser against Stoke, with an attempted clearance bouncing off Mark Davies and into the empty net.
34 mins: Chelsea pile on the pressure on already relegated Blackburn. Michael Essien wriggles past three defenders and sets up Raul Meireles who slots the ball into the net from the edge of the area. Classy finish by the Portugal midfielder.
31 mins: A firm header by John Terry gives Chelsea the lead against Blackburn as he
30 mins: Arsenal's Andre Santos lets rip from long-range and the keeper can only watch as the ball rockets into the top corner of the net.
28 mins: QPR are working furiously to deny City any possession
27 mins: Everton double their lead against Newcastle, with Nikita Jelavic stabbing the ball home after the Newcastle keeper spills a cross.
26 mins: As it stands, Manchester United are currently winning the league, while Spurs have leapfrogged Arsenal to sit third above Arsenal. Still a lot of time for these places to be thrown up in disarray.
25 mins: City have been very disappointing and QPR are keeping their disciplined shape. The score from Sunderland is putting extra-pressure on City who know they must now beat QPR to win the title.
24 mins: QPR launch their first foray into the City half and Cisse is upended on the edge of the area by Barry. The French striker lines up the free kick and drills it under the leaping City wall but Hart gratefully smothers the ball.
21 mins: Norwich double the lead against Villa as Simeon Jackson races onto a poor back-pass to slide the ball past Shay Given.
20 mins: United pile pressure on City as they take the lead at the Stadium of Light. Rooney wriggles past two defenders to thump in a close-range header.
16 mins: Everton might not be able to reach the top four but they obviously want to finish above Liverpool to own the Merseyside bragging rights, and Steven Pienaar smashes a long-range strike into the top corner. Sweet finish by Pienaar
15 mins: Arsenal seem to be doing all they can to miss out on the Champions League spots as they give away possession and Graham Dorrans drills the ball under the grasp of Wojciech Szczesny. That is two goals in four minutes at the Hawthorns.
14 mins: Another quick goal at Wigan, as the Emmerson Boyce rises above the Wolves rearguard to plant a close-range header into the net
12 mins: Wigan's Franco di Santo levels the scores against Wolves with a fierce rasping shot.
12 mins: A huge roar from QPR's travelling contingent as Stoke take the lead against Bolton after a Jonathan Walters bundles the ball over the line from close-range. If the scores stay the same, then the result at the Etihad will be irrelevant. Are Bolton heading out of the Premier League?
10 mins: Arsenal have made a strong start against WBA, but against the run of play Ireland striker Shane Long rifles in a goal from the edge of the area to level the scores
9 mins: City have made a bright opening to the match, but have been unable to convert their possession into goals. Its different at the other grounds, where
Mike Jarvis smashes a sweet long-range strike to give Wolves a shock 1-0 lead over Wigan.
And over at Carrow Road, Grant Holt is doing his upmost to earn a call up to the England squad as he chests the ball over the line to give Norwich an early lead over Aston Villa.
6 mins: City players are crowded on the edge of the QPR area and Toure has the first shot on goal but slices his kick wide of Kenny's goal.
Over at White Hart Lane, news is coming in that Emmanuel Adebayor runs onto a perfectly weighed pass from Rafael van der Vaart to give Spurs the early lead against Fulham after just two minutes.
Meanwhile, WBA keeper Marton Fulop tries to recover a loose ball but slips and allows Arsenal's Yossi Benayoun a simple tap-in after just 4 minutes at the Hawthorns.
3 mins: City deny QPR any space on the ball and earn a quick corner, but Silva fluffs the kick and QPR clear their lines.
1 min: Man City go straight for the jugular and Silva nearly creates an opening for Aguero but Ferdinand hoofs the ball clear.
1400 GMT: KICK-OFF Referee Mike Dean blows his whistle to get the match under way
1359 GMT: "It will be a difficult task. City are an outstanding team who have been fantastic this year but we are here to do our best and to see if we can get a result, " Hughes says before the start of the match.
1354 GMT: A huge roar from an expectant Etihad crowd as the two teams shuffle out of the tunnel. City are wearing their traditional sky blue strip while QPR are in their red-and-white quarters away kit.
1350 GMT: City field a full-strength side which is unchanged for the fourth game in a row as Mancini opts to keep his first-choice striking line-up of Tevez and top-goal-scorer Aguero.
QPR recall former City favourite Wright-Phillips for the first time in two months as Hughes opts for an attacking line-up.
1346 GMT: Here are the line-ups at the Etihad...
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Nasri, Toure Yaya, Barry, Silva, Tevez, Aguero. Subs: Pantilimon, Richards, Milner, Dzeko, Kolarov, De Jong, Balotelli.
QPR: Kenny, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Hill, Taiwo, Wright-Phillips, Barton, Derry, Mackie, Cisse, Zamora. Subs: Cerny, Gabbidon, Taarabt, Campbell, Bothroyd, Traore, Buzsaky.
1345 GMT: The Man City-QPR match has been given added spice by the fact QPR manager Mark Hughes was sacked by City in December 2009, paving the way for Mancini's appointment.
Hughes also knows a thing or two about the pressures that go with a long title drought -- he was a striker in the Manchester United side that ended a 26-year wait for a league title in 1993.
The Welshman has told everyone to ignore his former connections to City and United, insisting his main focus is in keeping QPR in the Premier League.
"People keep throwing that word (revenge) up but it's not in my mind at all," he said.
Hughes can instead look back at his time at Man City and justifiably say that he helped lay the foundations for their current title challenge by signing several of the Sky Blues' first team squad such as Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Nigel de Jong, Gareth Barry, Carlos Tevez and Joleon Lescott.
The Welshman could also include several former City players in his QPR line-up, namely Shaun Wright-Phillips, Nedum Onuoha and Joey Barton.
1343 GMT: As the Premier League reaches its climax, here is what is still up for grabs on the final day of the season.
-- Who will be crowned champions?
Because of their superior goal difference (eight better than United), City know they will lift the title if they avoid any slip-ups and match their rivals result away at Sunderland.
United can only win the title if they better City's result or unless they can beat the Black Cats by more than nine goals.
-- Lucrative Champions League spots still up for grabs:
Arsenal will finish third and gain automatic entry into next season's Champions League if they beat West Bromwich Albion.
The Gunners will still finish third if they draw and Tottenham fail to beat Fulham.
However, Arsene Wenger's side will finish outside the top four if they lose and Tottenham and Newcastle both win.
Tottenham will finish third if they beat Fulham and Arsenal are held by WBA, or if they draw and the Gunners lose by more than two goals.
Newcastle will finish third if they win, Arsenal lose and Tottenham fail to win.
The Magpies will finish fourth if they beat Everton, and Spurs are held by Fulham.
The fourth spot will not guarantee Champions League football next term if Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in this season's final on May 19.
-- Relegation dog-fight
Wolves and Blackburn may have already been relegated but the identity of the third team joining them in the Championship has yet to be decided.
Bolton Wanderers will start in the drop zone, and they must defeat Stoke City and rely upon Man City to beat QPR to relegate Mark Hughes' side.
1341 GMT: The last time they won the league was when Joe Mercer's side featured the creative talents of Colin Bell, Mike Summerbee and Francis Lee. If they prevail against QPR, will the likes of Tevez et all be as fondly remembered by the City faithful?
1340 GMT: Man City have spent a small fortune on the creative talents of David Silva, Carlos Tevez, Marco Balotelli, Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero, but their title run-in has been based entirely on the the defensive prowess of Vincent Kompany, Joe Hart and Yaya Toure.
City's recent revival has seen them only conceded only one goal in their last five league matches and this solidity has allowed them to claw back an eight point deficit on their bitter rivals.
At the same time, Mancini has kept Balotelli (and his odd-ball antics) out of the side as he has ditched the artists in favour of a more artisan approach and this has propelled the Sky Blues to the cusp of only their third top-flight league title.
1339 GMT: It has been the most exciting and unpredictable season in living memory, but does it have a final twist?
The last time Man City won the league was a full year before US astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon.
They have since been long overshadowed by their historic rivals who have won three European Cups and 12 league titles over the past 44 years.
If the Sky Blues do prevail against QPR, City fans might well paraphrase Armstrong and crow that the result was "one small step for Man [City] but a giant leap for man[city]kind".
United fans might instead grumble that the £1 billion investment by City owner Sheikh Mansour was only marginally less expensive than the actual lunar expedition.
The Abu Dhabi owner is expected to be at the Etihad for only his second match since acquiring the club in September 2008.
And should City fall at the final hurdle after a turbulent season the City owner might well send manager Roberto Mancini into orbit on a one-way ticket out of the Etihad.
WELCOME TO AFP's LIVE REPORT ON THE FINAL DAY OF THE ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON which sees Manchester City aiming to end a 44-year wait for a top-flight title if they can defeat Queens Park Rangers at the Etihad Stadium. The final day will not only determine the top five league spots but also the final relegation spot which could see either QPR or Bolton dumped out of the top-flight.
City are in the box seat and know that barring an improbable result by Manchester United -- who are away at Sunderland -- that a win will clinch their first top-flight league title since 1968.
United are chasing their fifth title in six seasons and will be relying on QPR -- who themselves need a point to avoid relegation -- to cause an upset at the Etihad.
Elsewhere, Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle are all chasing the final two spots in next season's lucrative Champions League.
The final day will also determine whether QPR or Bolton will be relegated out of the top-flight.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »