World Football

Ranking Sergio Aguero and the Top Title-Deciding Goals in Premier League History

Matt CheethamCorrespondent IMay 10, 2014

Ranking Sergio Aguero and the Top Title-Deciding Goals in Premier League History

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    The Premier League reaches its climax this weekend, with each club's 38th and final fixture of the season to be played on Sunday.

    Relegation and Champions League places are effectively decided, leaving the title race as Sunday's main attraction.

    Manchester City are firm favourites, needing just a point at home against West Ham to land a second Premier League crown in three seasons.

    Manuel Pellegrini will be keen to cross the line a little more comfortably than City did in 2012, when they needed Sergio Aguero's last-gasp heroics to lift the trophy.

    Could we be set for similar drama and surprises on Sunday?

    In anticipation of such scenes, here's a look back on the very best title-deciding goals of the Premier League's 22 years.

     

2010: Didier Drogba vs. Manchester United

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    As we will discover, true title-winning strikes are quite rare. Often a team losing, or an emphatic win seals the deal, securing the same elation but without the same dose of drama or individual acclaim.

    Therefore, some of these goals are the moments thatwhen looking back—most people consider the title was effectively won.

    We start in 2010, when Chelsea lifted a third Premier League title, winning on the last day of the season via an 8-0 win over Wigan.

    Looking back, however, the key turning point came five games before that in the form of an away victory at Old Trafford.

    Manchester United were the closest challengers all season and, with the Blues one point behind in the table, this match was billed as the title decider.

    United were favourites, but Joe Cole gave his side an early lead. Didier Drogba then emerged from the bench to seal the win with a 78th-minute strike, and put his side in control of the title race.

    Three points put Chelsea back on top by one point, the same margin they eventually won the league by.

2008: Ryan Giggs vs. Wigan

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    Any title race that lasts until the final day of the season carries a certain amount of drama and intrigue.

    As with 2010 and indeed this weekend, that was also the case in 2008. Manchester United found themselves level with Chelsea, albeit separated by a vastly superior goal difference.

    The final day's fixtures saw United travel to Wigan while the Blues hosted Bolton.

    Both sides went in front during the first half, ensuring a tense atmosphere among Manchester United fans and players.

    With a slender one goal advantage, any slip could cost United the trophy.

    It wasn't until Ryan Giggs' goal on 80 minutes when the celebrating truly began. As it was, Chelsea conceded a last-minute goal to Bolton, finishing two points behind their rivals.

1996: Eric Cantona vs. Newcastle

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    Manchester United's 1996 title win came largely thanks to a Newcastle collapse, leading to infamous quotes from Kevin Keegan.

    United trailed the Magpies by 12 points in January, seemingly out of the picture, before Keegan's side went on a run of five defeats and a draw in eight games.

    During this rut, a heart-breaking 4-3 loss to Liverpool was perhaps the most critical blow; howeverfrom a United stance—the key moment came as the two rivals met in March.

    Eric Cantona scored the only goal of the game, cutting what had been such a substantial lead down to just a point.

    By the final game of the season, United led by two points and confirmed their crown with a win over Middlesbrough.

1999: Andy Cole vs. Tottenham

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    1999 will forever be remembered for Manchester United's unprecedented treble.

    Each trophy contained a number of dramatic twists along the way, sometimes masked by the manner of their Champions League win.

    Lifting the Premier League title was a fierce battle throughout the season.

    Arsenal led with two games to go, before a surprise loss to Leeds suddenly handed control to United, who needed a win in their final match of the season to lift the trophy. 

    Having gone behind early against Tottenham, David Beckham equalised moments before half-time, but that would still not be enough.

    Sir Alex Ferguson sent on Andy Cole at half-time, and the England striker grabbed what proved the decisive strike shortly after.

2002: Sylvain Wiltord vs. Manchester United

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    Arsenal's 2001-02 Premier League crown was secured in style, on the home turf of their championship rivals and title holders, Manchester United.

    Having moved ahead in an open race, the Gunners only needed a draw at Old Trafford with one game remaining.

    A United win would take matters to the final game of the season, leaving them just a point behind with Liverpool also in the reckoning.

    As it was, Sylvain Wiltord's 57th-minute strike sparked joyous scenes among Arsenal fans and players, providing a memorable 1-0 win.

    Another win in their final game saw them top the table by seven points and lift a second title in five seasons.

2009: Federico Macheda vs. Aston Villa

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    Federico Macheda's impact on the 2009 title race remains his biggest contribution in football.

    It did not decide the title then, but looking back, it's the moment United found form and their opponents wilted.

    Sir Alex Ferguson's side trailed Aston Villa 2-1 with 10 minutes to go, already below Liverpool in the table. They had lost their previous two games and seemed on course to slip further behind their rivals.

    However, not for the first time under Ferguson, United rallied late on.

    Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed an equaliser on 81 minutes before a 17-year-old Macheda sent Old Trafford into raptures, coming off the bench score an injury time winner that put United top of the league.

    His goal seemed to rejuvenate his side, who found an imperious streak of form, winning the next seven straight games.

    United then officially secured the title after a 0-0 draw with Arsenal.

1993: Steve Bruce vs. Sheffield Wednesday

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    One of the most iconic title-deciding goals came in the Premier League's very first season, supplied by Steve Bruce.

    Again, it wasn't the official decisive goal, but many look back on this as the strike that won the trophy.

    Manchester United were without a title in 26 years and sat a point behind Aston Villa with six games to go.

    Trailing Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 with a few minutes remaining, United were set to fall further behind Villa, who were drawing 0-0 with Coventry.

    That was before Bruce levelled matters on 86 minutes and then struck a dramatic winner in the sixth minute of added time.

    The unlikely comeback put United ahead of Villa, who proceeded to capitulate, losing three of their final five games.

    Bruce's goal prompted wild, on-field celebrations from Sir Alex Ferguson and Brian Kiddwhile also spawning the well-known saying: Fergie Time.

2012:. Sergio Aguero vs. QPR

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    We finish with the daddy of them all, Sergio Aguero's last-gasp strike against QPR.

    No title-deciding goal comes close to matching the drama, passion and emotion on show at the Etihad Stadium following his goal in 2012.

    Needing a win against a relegation-threatened opponent, City somehow found themselves 2-1 down at home, despite firing in a torrent of shots.

    As added time began, City pulled one back through Edin Dzeko, before Aguero's stunning last-second goal.

    It was his side's 44th shot and, in the most dramatic fashion, it secured a first league title since 1968. 

    Nobody expected City to struggle against QPR, just as everyone expects a smooth ride this weekend against West Ham.

    Might we be in for a similar slice of drama?

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