Manchester City is in the midst of a golden era. For context’s sake, it’s important to never forget where the Sky Blues came from to make this period an even more remarkable one.
From Aguero to Zabaleta, here are Manchester City’s five best matches of all-time (in chronological order).
13 May 1968: Newcastle 3-4 Man City
Similar to just a few years ago, Man City and United went into the final day of the 1967-68 season equal on points, with City again holding the better goal differential. City was tasked with going to 10th place Newcastle for the final match, while United had the luxury of hosting bottom-feeder Sunderland.
The Magpies and Sky Blues traded goals back and forth in the first half, going into the break knotted up at 2-2. City came roaring out of the gate in the second half, with Neil Young and Francis Lee both scoring less than 20 minutes after play resumed. Newcastle would get back a goal late, but the good guys would hold onto the win for their first league championship since 1937, and their first of four trophies they would win from 1968-70.
29 April 1970: Man City 2-1 Górnik Zabrze
Górnik Zabrze might not be the most well known name in Polish football these days, but the club will forever be the answer to one of City supporters’ favorite pub questions. After beating Leicester City in the 1969 FA Cup Final, Man City qualified for just their second European campaign in club history, the 1969-70 Club Winners’ Cup.
City worked their way through four rounds to face Górnik Zabrze, the Polish Cup champion, in the final. Played in Vienna, it took just 12 minutes for Neil Young to give the English side an early lead. Just before half, Francis Lee earned a penalty kick that he made to double the lead. City went on to win both the match and their first European trophy ever.
9 November 2002: Man City 3-1 Man United
If you’ve ever wondered why Gary Neville is one of City supporters’ favorite Red Devils, you’ll have to go back to November 2002 at the last Manchester Derby to be played at Maine Road. Tied 1-1 in the 26th minute, Phil Neville was with the ball on his own touchline while being pressured by City’s Shaun Goater. Almost inexplicably, the United captain coughed the ball right up to Goater, which allowed him to dribble into the box and reclaim the lead for City.
Until he was subbed out of the game, Neville was heavily cheered by the raucous crowd for the rest of the match. Goater would add goal another in the second half (his 100th overall for the club), giving City their first win over United in 13 years.
23 October 2011: Man United 1-6 Man City
Heading into the first Manchester Derby match of the 2011-12 season, City had narrowly lost the previous two matches at Old Trafford by a goal apiece. In fact, City had failed to record a win in the series since February 2008. The visitors were also pretty big underdogs at most online sportsbooks (where you can bet live on the Prem, any other football league you can think of, and even casino games), listed at +256 odds to win. Nonetheless, the noisy neighbors would change the face of the Derby forever in October 2011 when they give Man U nightmares in the Theatre of Dreams.
The match began as cagey as expected, and after 20 minutes it was Mario Balotelli that opened the scoring in City’s favour (also the moment we all asked ourselves, Why Always Him?). A few minutes later, Johnny Evans was sent off for hauling down Balotelli just outside the box, commencing a Man U meltdown. In the second half, Super Mario, Aguero, Dzeko, and Silva would all add goals to make the final score 6-1, United’s worst home defeat in over 50 years.
13 May 2012: Man City 3-2 QPR
Man City’s greatest match of all-time may just well be the Premier League’s greatest ever, too. Heading into the final matchday of the 2011-12 season, United and City were tied atop the table on points, but the latter held the advantage on goal differential. On this final gameweek, United played Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, while City had the perceived advantage of welcoming relegation-threatened QPR to the Etihad.
The matches of course being played simultaneously, United went up first thanks to a 20th minute goal from Rooney. But City would take their own lead just before the break thanks to Pablo Zabaleta. That lead would be erased in the 49th when Djibril Cisse equalized for QPR and then, despite being down a man due to Joey Barton’s sending off, QPR would take a 2-1 lead in the 69th. Edin Dzeko got a goal back in the 91st, but it looked like the title would again be Man U’s after they won 1-0. But as United was waiting around for their trophy presentation, Sergio Aguero instead helped City reclaim the lead, and their first title in 44 years, when he scored at the death.