SUNDERLAND, England (AP) – Manchester United's celebrations turned to stunned silence on Sunday as the team's 1-0 win at Sunderland couldn't prevent Manchester City snatching away the Premier League title with a last-gasp comeback victory on the final day of the season.
United thought it had done enough to retain the title in unlikely fashion when Queens Park Rangers held a 2-1 lead at City going into injury time - only for United's rivals to secure a 3-2 victory with two late goals.
''It's a cruel way (to lose the title),'' United manager Alex Ferguson said. ''We've experienced many ups and downs in the 25 years I've been here, most of them have been great, we've won the title three times on the last day, today we nearly did it.
''I'd like to say on behalf of Manchester United, congratulations to our neighbors - a fantastic achievement to win the Premier League.''
United's players left the pitch in Sunderland with shell-shocked expressions, while the fans looked at each other in disbelief and stood with hands on heads in a bewildered silence.
The top two were level on points going into the final round, and City used its better goal difference to clinch its first title since 1968.
United had led the standings by eight points with six games remaining at the beginning of April after City slumped to a 1-0 loss at Arsenal.
Looking to extend its record haul of league titles to 20 - including 12 Premier League trophies under Alex Ferguson - United seemed to have broken City's challenge.
But an unexpected loss at Wigan, followed by a shock 4-4 draw against Everton after throwing away a two-goal lead let City back into the race.
City then won the much-anticipated Manchester derby 13 days ago to edge ahead on goal difference and set up a nailbiting finale.
As the final-day showdown swung into action, United struck the first blow when defender Phil Jones sent a deep cross to the back post in the 20th minute for Wayne Rooney to score with a stooping header.
Early as it was, the goal put United top of the standings and prompted a period of intense pressure, with Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet punching away a shot from the recalled Ryan Giggs in the 28th.
Rooney almost extended the lead when he curled a free kick onto the crossbar on the half hour mark and then miskicked in front of goal after Young's shot fell to him in the 34th.
Shortly after, news that City had taken the lead against QPR filtered into the stadium, prompting the Sunderland fans to taunt the visitors with chants of ''1-0 to the City boys'' and suggestions that United would win nothing this season.
United's fans responded by holding up a banner with the number 19 - the record number of titles won by the club - while Ferguson chewed his gum pensively on the bench.
Sunderland had offered very little attacking threat in the first half and United had the better chances in the second period as Rooney had a shot saved by Mignolet in the 47th.
As time ticked on, events seemed to be favoring United as the away fans learnt of QPR's equalizer at City.
The news got even better for the traveling supporters as QPR took the lead and United almost made the win over Sunderland safe when Mignolet pushed Giggs' shot over the top in the 76th.
As the final whistle blew at the Stadium of Light, United's fans stood waiting for confirmation of City's failure to beat QPR.
Incredibly, that expectation turned sour in the space of just a few minutes as City clawed its way back against QPR with two stoppage-time goals to win and wrest the title from United's grasp.
The results meant the top two finished level on points for the first time since 1989 when Arsenal snatched the title from Liverpool with a 2-0 win at Anfield in the final game.