After Sergio Aguero scored the most dramatic goal in Premier League history a decade ago, few left the Etihad Stadium unsatisfied.
Manchester City and their fans were overjoyed after a last-minute win over QPR that not only secured the club their first league title in 44 years, but also snatched it from arch-rivals Manchester United.
Normally, QPR, who were up 2-1 before injury time and only lost 3-2, would have left the Etihad Stadium devastated and in shock, but with avoiding relegation on the final day they too were largely able to celebrate.
Even Mike Dean, the referee, said he considered the game the most memorable of his career.
But for Rangers’ Anton Ferdinand, feelings were decidedly mixed.
The centre-back was evidently delighted his side had overcome relegation – which was confirmed after Bolton failed to beat Stoke – but the result deprived his brother Rio, the United defender, of yet another league-winners’ medal.
To make matters worse, he also blamed himself for the goal.
It was bittersweet for me and I took it pretty hard about the fact that it was my fault.Anton Ferdinand
“I was devastated that I couldn’t help Rio deliver another trophy,” said Ferdinand. “If we had won that game, Rio would have been eliminated with seven titles instead of six.
“I was happy I did my job to keep QPR in the Premier League, which was fantastic, but after that I kicked myself.
“It was bittersweet for me and I took it pretty hard that this is my fault.
“It was back to the wall, under the cosh, defend, defend, defend and we did well until the last five to eight minutes.
“That Aguero goal – the goal that makes the headlines, the moment Martin Tyler yells ‘Agueroooo’ – was my fault. I banged my head about that goal.
“When the ball was played into (Mario) Balotelli, I didn’t have to go and win it. I tried to capture the ball, obviously forcing it the way Aguero was.
“If I had put pressure on him and let him go backwards, Aguero wouldn’t have seen that ball.
“I’m usually a patient defender but for some reason probably the emotions of the game, the way we were defending for our lives prompted me to do something I wouldn’t normally do and that led to one Goal.”
City, who were top of the table on goal difference, needed to come on to match United’s result at Sunderland to lift the crown.
They were on target at half-time after taking the lead through Pablo Zabaleta but things changed after the break with Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie responding for Rangers.
This handed the initiative to United, who led at the Stadium of Light, and it stayed that way until injury time in the clash against QPR, reduced to 10 men after Joey Barton was sent off early in the second half, was finally broken in the face of unrelenting pressure.
First Edin Dzeko set up a grandstand finish as he headed home from a corner and then, amid incredible tension, Balotelli fed Agüero and the Argentine hopped around Taye Taiwo to fire past Paddy Kenny.
“It was a crazy day,” said Ferdinand. “The fact that it’s been 10 years makes me feel old. It feels like yesterday to be honest.
“When we showed up – I can only speak for myself and not for anyone else – I felt a bit disrespected by the way Man City had acted. It was like a carnival atmosphere like they had already won it.
“That motivated me to say, ‘okay, let’s ruin the party,’ and once you get into the game, you don’t think about anything else. My only thought was staying in the Premier League for QPR.
“It was a crazy, crazy game where we took the lead at a crucial moment. We came into the second half and were really, really good, controlling parts of the game.
“We took a 2-1 lead (but) after that it was like a training game where we only had attack versus defense.”
Ferdinand has no doubt that the sacking of former City midfielder Barton after a ball-less clash with Carlos Tevez – which led to further chaotic scenes as he left the field – was a crucial turning point in the game.
I think if he stays on the pitch we’ll win this game.Anton Ferdinand
“I think if he stays on the pitch we’ll win the game,” said Ferdinand. “He’ll tell you it was stupid. You can look at it and know it was silly.
“Sometimes, with someone of Joey’s character, when you get caught up in the action and emotionally involved in the game, like all of us, you lose your temper.
“If you took that out of Joey, he wouldn’t have been the same player, he wouldn’t have had the career he’s had. That’s fact.
“We knew that and accepted that, and you’d rather have him on your team than not, but that was a major game-changer.”
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Rangers continued to frustrate City and Ferdinand could feel the pressure on home side manager Roberto Mancini mounting as time went on.
“I just remember it was so surreal,” he said. “Mancini thought they lost it. He stood on the sidelines, berated his players, tried to give them information, but then only abused them.
“We kept putting pressure on, but of course Dzeko scored the goal after a corner, which we could have defended 100 percent better.”
What followed, when the clock ticked 93 minutes and 20 seconds, when Aguero struck and set out on a jubilant celebration run, waving his shirt in the air, could have been heartbreaking for QPR.
Events elsewhere meant that would not be the case and visiting fans were able to join the party, but it will always be a source of regret for Ferdinand.
“I don’t mind seeing it (back) because I’ve done my job effectively for QPR, we’ve kept them in the Premier League,” he said.
“But blood is thicker than anything and if I could have delivered another medal for Rio, the household would have been a fantastic place for everyone.
“Of course he would never have accused me of that, but that’s just how we brothers are.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/anton-ferdinand-i-was-devastated-for-rio-after-sergio-agueros-title-winner-41633759.html Anton Ferdinand: I was devastated after Sergio Aguero won the title for Rio