Champions: April 2008
And now, the end is near... Only not quite as near as was first hoped. The penultimate chapter of the season – a strength-sapping eight games in league and cup – brought delight in reaching the Champions League final, but a dip in away form ensured that the league campaign was going right to the wire.
First up, the tough trip to Boro – and one of the season’s most thrilling encounters. Ronaldo’s opener was cancelled out by Afonso Alves, who also put the Teessiders in the lead. On an afternoon when Nemanja Vidic’s presence was missed and Rio Ferdinand limped off with a damaged toe, Wazza rescued a precious point.
Next we said goodbye to Arsenal’s title hopes at Old Trafford. In another breathless afternoon we came from behind again; Ronaldo equalised from the spot and then Owen Hargreaves hit the winner with a stupendous free kick. Facing Blackburn was a slog, but Tevez’s late header salvaged a point after a second half spent battering Brad Friedel’s goal.
And so to Stamford Bridge where victory – or even a point – would have virtually sealed the title. The champagne looked ready for uncorking after Rooney pounced on Ricardo Carvalho’s back-pass gaffe to level Michael Ballack’s header. Sadly, the bubbly was back on ice four minutes