The Header That Defined A Season

Eight years ago, in April of 2012, the stakes were higher than ever. In a derby under the Etihad lights, the blue and red sides of Manchester locked horns to see who would stake a claim to be the champions of England.

On that night, one man leapt above all others.

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(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Following a 2-0 win against Wolverhampton Wanderers on the afternoon of Sunday 22nd April 2012, all eyes turned towards the Manchester derby at the Etihad a week later. This was not just because it was a game against hated rivals, but Manchester City were back in the title race after United’s 4-4 draw against Everton earlier that afternoon.

The build-up had begun in earnest on Sky Sports with some cringy title for the Monday night clash and immense nerves had crept in for City fans. 

The ‘Typical City’ mentality is something that will never be let go by fans regardless of their age, and with the club weeks away from potentially securing their first Premier League title in over 40 years, there was still a feeling that given this opportunity, Roberto Mancini’s team could still throw it away.

All the big guns were back and raring to go, including Carlos Tevez who had redeemed himself following a touchline spat with Mancini earlier that season. However, there was one constant which was keeping City in this title race and that was captain Vincent Kompany.

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(Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)

The Belgian’s relationship with fellow centre-back Joleon Lescott had made them the best defensive partnership that season and it would only be right for Kompany to be a part of an iconic moment in City’s title winning campaign.

I can remember every minute of that derby match on 30th April. Arriving three hours before kick-off in the evening sun, meeting up with friends and then entering the stadium waiting nervously for this ordeal to get underway.

The atmosphere was like something I had never experienced in that stadium for a long time and then came a corner towards the end of the first half. 

Captain Kompany swaggered into the box ready to go through the routine – David Silva crosses the ball in, Kompany leaps above Chris Smalling and fires the ball into the back of David De Gea’s net. Blue shirts went into a frenzy.

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(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Then came an unbearable second-half always with the fear that Manchester United will do the ‘United thing‘ and grab a last-minute equaliser or even winner, but Roberto Mancini’s team held out, won 1-0 giving them the upper hand in the Premier League title race. 

The Aguero goal against Queens Park Rangers will always be the standout moment from that 2011/12 title winning campaign. However, no City fan can underestimate how vital that Kompany goal was in that derby match.INLINETwitter


You can follow the author on Twitter here: @AstburyMatt

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