The pivotal event came in the 89th minute as Danny Murphy entering the box was brought down by Michael Carrick as he stuck his foot out catching the Fulham midfielder and not the ball. It should have been a clear penalty but Michael Oliver, the youngest referee in the Premiership at 27 years having officiated a pretty good game till then saw no foul play or rather chose not to see it. 89th minute. Check. Old Trafford. Check. Title that could hinge on a referee's decision. Check. Intimidated. Definitely.
The Premiership is won by the team that outlasts the rest in a season spanning 38 games. Utd even when not at their best have shown that admirable durability which others find difficult to sustain. If luck is not part of that winning formula then we can also conclude that Mitt Romney is not an Etch a Sketch candidate.
Another part in Utd's success is when needed most, the side manages to summon some of the most commanding performances from their players. Antonio Valencia is probably the biggest reason why Utd will win it's 13th Premiership title. He stretches a defense to breaking and then comes in like a gangbuster. Its this constant expansion and compression that leaves opposing defenses looking and feeling like rag dolls.
The only knock on Valencia is he does not score too many goals but then there is Rooney to compensate. And so he did in the first half off a defensive mistake as an Ashley Young cross bounced off John Arne Riise and Jonny Evans seized on the ball to turn it into the path of Rooney for the game's only goal. Is it the imagination or is Evans finally playing well? Mark Schwarzer had an excellent game denying Utd any more success from their innumerable chances.
The win leaves Utd ahead of City by three points and a narrower goal differential. That could ultimately prove to be very important. Check out the highlights while they last.