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Their eleventh Prem crown and one achieved with as much finesse and fight as any other. Goal.com's Greg Ptolomey looks back at the moments that won the title.

1) Warning Shots

Following an average pre-season, which culminated in lifting the Community Shield by beating Portsmouth, and losing the UEFA Super Cup showdown with Zenit St. Petersburg, Manchester United started the season slowly. This was nothing new – they often take time to settle into a rhythm – but this season their rivals looked ready to challenge their dominance.

On September 13, Liverpool, whose Spanish contingent were fresh from Euro 2008 glory, beat them in the league for the first time since 2002. Making his debut, €33 million signing Dimitar Berbatov assisted Carlos Tevez's early opener, but a Wes Brown own goal and Ryan Babel's strike gave the Reds three points at Anfield. Chelsea followed, and Salomon Kalou cancelled out Park Ji-Sung's opener to steal a point.



He Sung The Blues | A point against Chelsea doesn't quite start the season off right



2) Tame The Tigers

United continued to stutter and, come November 1, they welcomed Premier League newcomers Hull City to Old Trafford, shockingly trailing the Tigers by two points. A thrilling game ensued.

Cristiano Ronaldo combined with Dimitar Berbatov before opening the scoring after just three minutes, yet Hull managed to equalise. The Red Devils then raced into a three goal lead, but the visitors gave them a fright at the end, and the match finished 4-3 in favour of the giants. Sir Alex Ferguson's men had seen off the challenge of a group of plucky upstarts, but losing to Arsenal the next week left question marks all over United and their title defence.




Score Early, Score Often | Dimitar Berbatov puts United on course for a 4-3 win over Hull City

3) Golden Boy


On December 2, Cristiano Ronaldo was awarded the Ballon d'Or for his performances in 2008. The Portuguese powerhouse was often struggling to reach the high standards he'd set during the previous season, so the Golden Ball came as a welcome boost.

With the January transfer window fast approaching, this recognition perhaps helped 'CR7' to put thoughts of Real Madrid out of his head. It had looked as though the winger would start the season at the Bernabeu, but now he was officially the best player in the world, and he'd done it as a Man Utd player.



Golden Boy | Cristiano Ronaldo gets ready to regain his form after lifting the 2008 Ballon d'Or

4) Post-Christmas Blues

Hard-fought wins over Stoke City and Middesbrough followed an untimely, but successful, Club World Cup jaunt to Japan. The ability to gain these points despite a harsh schedule would stand United in good stead later in the season.

Ferguson had been predicting a massive post-Christmas improvement from his side, and they certainly started 2009 with a bang. Veteran Ryan Giggs started to come to the fore during a 3-0 pounding of Chelsea, although it was Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney and Berbatov who bagged the goals.

This performance, as well as being full of creativity and authority, pulled United to within a point of Chelsea and five behind Liverpool, with two games in hand.




Not For The First Time | Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney combine yet again as the face Chelsea

5) Back On Top

On January 17, after Berbatov's late winner at Bolton Wanderers, Man Utd went to the top of the Premier League pile for the first time during the campaign. It was the defence, and goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who were earning all the plaudits, however: the 1-0 win was their tenth clean-sheet in a row.



Veteran Form | Edwin van der Sar and his back line were in fine fettle over the winter

6) Nothing Lasts Forever

Newcastle United forward Peter Lovenkrands finally put the ball into Van der Sar's net on March 4, ending the Dutchman's stunning 1310 minute stretch without conceding. Centre-backs Vidic and Jonny Evans, who was usually covering for the injured Rio Ferdinand, took a massive amount of credit, but it was ultimately the strength of the entire team which made them unbreakable.

Nevertheless, United would respond instantly at St. James Park, with Rooney and Berbatov dragging their team back from the brink of defeat to win.




Let The Good Times Roll | No more clean sheet, but plenty of goals at the other end for on-fire United

7) The Dip

The middle of March was a disastrous time for Manchester United. If there was to be no happy ending come May, then these two games against Liverpool and Fulham would have been considered the point at which it all went wrong.

Liverpool absolutely trounced them at Old Trafford, winning 4-1 after Vidic had been sent off amid an error-strewn display. The red mist descended again at Craven Cottage, where Paul Scholes and Rooney were dismissed en route to a shock 2-0 defeat at the hands of Fulham.



Red Missed | An otherwise excellent season for Nemanja Vidic was marred by a red card against Liverpool

8) Introducing : Federico Macheda


Sir Alex Ferguson needed to find something special from somewhere if his troops were to fight their way to the title. Enter unknown 17-year-old Federico Macheda, who came off the bench to grab the winner against Aston Villa. The visitors had led with ten minutes remaining, but Ronaldo and Macheda secured a dramatic 3-2 victory.

They say lightning doesn't strike twice, but try telling that to Sunderland. Macheda took mere seconds to lift the Red Devils to a 2-1 win, when the three points had looked beyond them.



Meet The New Hero | Young Federico Macheda doesn't need long to make his mark for the Red Devils

9) Showing Character

April 25 is a date that will likely stick in the memories of all who attended Old Trafford to watch United take on Tottenham Hotspur. Goals from Darren Bent and Luka Modric stunned the home crowd, but they responded to roar their side to a compelling second-half turnaround. Doubles from Ronaldo, Rooney and a final goal from Berbatov completed a stunning eventual 5-2 rout, although Spurs were aggrieved by some of the referee's decisions.



No Doubt | Manchester United come back to thrash Spurs and take a step closer to silverware

10) On The Brink

By May 13, Man Utd had shown that they were more than capable of winning ugly, winning spectacularly... winning by whatever means necessary. As they visited Wigan Athletic's JJB Stadium, they were four points from a third-successive title, and the nerves were evident. The hosts led at the break, and again United would have to do it the hard way to crush Liverpool's hopes of pipping them to first place.

Tevez – his future still hanging in the balance – became the latest inspired substitution as he skilfully flicked the leveller into the Wigan net, before Michael Carrick gracefully fired into the top corner with time running out. Another three points snatched from the jaws of failure, and now just one point away from getting their hands on the trophy...



Closer And Closer | United inched past Wigan and the title seemed a foregone conclusion

11) Three-In-A-Row

Manchester United hosted Arsenal on May 16, kicking off the penultimate weekend of the season. With Rio Ferdinand injured, Ryan Giggs – previously awarded with the PFA Player of the Year gong – lead out the side, although it would be club captain Gary Neville who'd lift the famous trophy.


In truth it was a dour game, filled with broken-down attacks and scrappy play, but United fans couldn't care one jot as the 0-0 draw handed them their third successive title.


United thus equal Liverpool's record of 18 top-flight titles, and win an astonishing second Premier League hat-trick. For the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, it's eleven wins as the legend continues to be written.



Champions | Manchester United lift their third Premier League trophy in a row

Greg Ptolomey, Goal.com


Source: Goal.com

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