Soccer

We Missed the Premier League, too: Remembering Sergio Aguero's 2012 title-winning goal for Manchester City

We Missed the Premier League, too: Remembering Sergio Aguero's 2012 title-winning goal for Manchester City

Weekend mornings haven’t been the same since the English Premier League paused its season. The EPL will be back on NBC today when Aston Villa hosts Sheffield United at 1p.m. on NBC Sports Network followed by Arsenal at Manchester City at 3:15 p.m. 

To get you through the wait, NBC Sports Washington has devoted a week of stories on each of the Big 6 clubs in England: Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City. Because we missed the Premier League, too. And we're glad its back. 

Our fifth week, the one dedicated to Manchester City, continues with a look back at Sergio Aguero's miraculous stoppage-time goal versus Queens Park Rangers on the final matchday of the 2011-12 season to win the club's first league title in 44 years. 

Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero has transformed into one of the world's best goal scorers during his nearly-decade long run at Manchester City that began in 2011. 

But when Manchester City supporters think of the nearly 200 goals Aguero has netted with the club, there's one that stands out above all the rest.

For years, Manchester City had been the little, unsuccessful brother to Manchester United. For American sports fans, think of City as the Los Angeles Clippers and United as the Lakers.

On May 13, 2012, City and United entered the final matchday of the Premier League season tied atop the table with 86 points, yet City held the tiebreaker due to goal differential. On this day, the little brother had the chance to celebrate its first league title in 44 years, and thus, first-ever Premier League trophy.

One of the most fascinating things about this particular Sunday was that both matches kicked off at the exact same time. Neither club could watch the scoreboard. They had to focus on their own task at hand first.

After a back-and-forth first-half, silence in Ethiad Stadium turned into eruption when Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta found the back of the net in the 39th minute to give the home team the lead. 

Manchester City would take the narrow 1-nil advantage into the halftime break - just 45 minutes away from winning its first title in over four decades.

However, things took a turn for the worst quickly in the second half. Three minutes into the frame, City defender Joleon Lescott headed the ball back towards his own net, and QPR striker Djibril Cissé scored the equalizer.

All of a sudden, the pressure was back on City, as United held a 1-0 lead in their match at the Stadium of Light against Sunderland. 

City began to regain control in the 55th minute when QPR's Joey Barton was sent off with a red card for intentionally elbowing Carlos Teves. With a man advantage, City needed just one goal to regain control of the league title.

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And for the next 10 minutes or so, City dominated possession. But chance after chance, they still were unable to pull ahead.

In the 66th minute, QPR found themselves on the break, with Armand Traore dribbling down the left sideline. As Traore approached the corner, he floated a beautiful cross into the box, where a wide-open Jamie Mackie was waiting. Mackie played the ball of the back of his head and into the net, giving the 10-man QPR side a 2-1 victory with just 24 minutes of regulation time remaining. It looked over for Manchester City who, as Sky Sports broadcaster Martin Tyler noted later, faced the genuine fear that "a very good side would still finish second in its own city."

As the 90th minute approached, City still trailed 2-1. The crowd at Ethiad Stadium became restless as United's 1-0 victory over Sunderland became final. As stoppage time came, the referee held up the substitution sign that read "4." 

Four minutes for Manchester City to score two goals and save their vanishing title hopes.

Corner kick after corner kick, City still couldn't find the back of the net. Yet nearly two minutes into stoppage time, Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko delivered.

Off a corner kick from Aguero, Dzeko rose above the rest of the players in the crowded box and headed the ball in the back of the net, evening the score at two and giving life to a stadium bereft of it. 

Then came the magic. 

Manchester City won possession of the ball quickly, and all of a sudden were threatening once again. Aguero pushed the ball upwards to Italian striker Mario Balotelli, who was positioned right outside the penalty box. Balotelli seemed to slip, but regained his footing enough to find an open Aguero cutting towards the right post.

Aguero took one dribble, then unleashed a powerful right-footed strike that QPR goalie Paddy Kenny had no chance of stopping.

"AGUEROOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Tyler shouted into the microphone for his iconic call. 

In remarkable fashion, Manchester City had done it. The club netted two goals in stoppage time in miraculous fashion, earning the Premier League title for the first time in the club's history. Manchester United players and fans heard the shocking news as they walked off the pitch at Sunderland sure they were headed for yet another title celebration. 

To this day, Aguero's goal on that May afternoon is the biggest in Manchester City's history. And given the circumstances, it's hard to imagine any goal topping it.

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D.C. United to return to Audi Field as MLS will host local matches beginning August 12

D.C. United to return to Audi Field as MLS will host local matches beginning August 12

Following the conclusion of the MLS is Back Tournament, MLS will continue its 25th season by having teams compete in their local markets, the league announced on Saturday.

Thus, D.C. United will be returning to Audi Field for regular-season action. The team will open up on the road against FC Cincinnati on Friday, August 21, before having its home opener on Tuesday, August 25, against the New England Revolution. For at least the beginning of the season, no fans will be in attendance. 

“I would like to thank everyone involved with the MLS is Back Tournament -- players, coaches, staff and partners -- for their role in helping us recapture the momentum we had at the beginning of our 25th season and reconnect with our passionate fans,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “Since suspending play in March, we have been working on plans to play as much of our season as possible, beginning with the tournament in Florida and resuming in our local markets following the competition. We remain focused on the health and safety of our players, coaches and staff, and look forward to continuing our season in our home markets.”

Though the league is planning to allow teams to travel after holding the tournament in a bubble, it doesn't mean protocols will lessen in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Players will continue to be tested every other day and are strongly advised to limit exposure outside of team facilities and mandated areas.

However, a major complication is how the three Canadian teams (Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver) will handle the season. Much like how the Toronto Blue Jays had to relocate to Buffalo to play the MLB season, Canada still has tight restrictions in place when it comes to leaving the country and coming back.

MLS states that it will have a clearer picture of the schedule in September, but initially plans to have U.S. teams only square off against one another. That may lead to the three teams north of the border only playing one another for the beginning of the season. PLans there remain uncertain. 

As it stands now, the league is set to kick off on August 12 and each team will play 18 games. Decision Day will be on November 8, and 18 teams will enter the playoffs. That number is four more than last season. The MLS Cup will take place on December 12. 

The MLS is Back Tournament is set to come to a conclusion on August 11 and the Portland Timbers will take on Orlando City for the title on August 11. D.C. United did not reach the knockout stage after finishing last in their group.

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Christian Pulisic continues to shine for Chelsea early in FA Cup Final, leaves match with injury

Christian Pulisic continues to shine for Chelsea early in FA Cup Final, leaves match with injury

Since the resumption of soccer in England, USNMT star and Chelsea attacker Christian Pulisic has been among the best in the sport. He continued that on Saturday, wasting no time giving his team the lead in the FA Cup Final against Arsenal.

Pulisic netted a goal just five minutes into the match.

The FA Cup is a knockout-style tournament that pits the best British soccer teams against one another. Pulisic's goal not only gave Chelsea an early advantage, but put him in the history books as he became the first U.S International player to score in the final.

Pulisic's brilliance on Saturday is just the latest impressive performance by the 21-year old. His effort since the Premier League returned helped Chelsea finish in the top four of the league.

Unfortunately for Pulisic and Chelsea, he did not get the opportunity to further leave his mark on the FA Cup Final and he exited in the 48th minute with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

Though he had to leave the contest early, Pulisic once again proved that he is an emerging star both nationally and internationally.

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