Manchester United Champions: Game-by-game review of how the 2012-13 Premier League title was won
Game 1: August 20: Everton 1 Manchester United 0
United's title bid began with this limp defeat at Goodison Park. Wayne Rooney was not the only United player who looked off the pace as Sir Alex Ferguson's side went down to Marouane Fellaini's 57th-minute goal. Robin van Persie made his United debut as a second-half sub but could not inspire a comeback.
Game 2: August 25: Manchester United 3 Fulham 2
In what was to become a familiar pattern in the first half of the season, United conceded first and had to come from behind to win. Damien Duff gave Fulham a third-minute lead, but first-half goals from van Persie, Shinji Kagawa and Rafael gave United enough of a margin to concede a Nemanja Vidic own goal but still win.
Game 3: September 2: Southampton 2 Manchester United 3
Van Persie was United's match-winner with a hat-trick, including two goals in the last three minutes, as they snatched victory from the Saints. Van Persie atoned for a second-half penalty miss when, with United trailing 2-1, he tried to dink his spot-kick and failed miserably. But he struck twice late on to secure another dramatic comeback win.
Game 4: September 15: Wigan 0 Manchester United 4
Paul Scholes opened the scoring on his 700th appearance for United as they cruised to an easy win at Old Trafford. United missed a penalty for the second match running as Chicharito saw a spot-kick saved. He made up for that with United's second, with new signings Alex Buttner and Nick Powell completing the rout with their first goals for the club.
Game 5: September 23: Liverpool 1 Manchester United 2
Traditional hostilities were put to one side as Sir Bobby Charlton presented Ian Rush with flowers before the game to mark the landmark ruling on the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at Hillsborough. On the pitch United were lucky to win. Steven Gerrard put the hosts ahead, before a majestic strike from Rafael and a late van Persie penalty won the game for United.
United produced a breathless second-half display but it was a case of too little, too late, having given Spurs a 2-0 lead at half-time. Jan Vertonghen scored after three minutes, with Gareth Bale outpacing Rio Ferdinand to double the lead before the break. Nani and Kagawa scored a minute either side of Clint Dempsey's second-half goal but couldn't plunder an equaliser as Spurs claimed their first win at Old Trafford since 1989.
Game 7: October 7: Newcastle 0 Manchester United 3
After wins for Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal the day before, the pressure was on United to do the same at Newcastle, where they lost 3-0 last season. But early goals from defenders Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra, capped by a wonderful looping angled strike from Tom Cleverley after the break, ensured United left Tyneside with a comfortable win.
Game 8: October 20: Manchester United 4 Stoke 2
United had to come from behind to win again as an early Rooney own goal gave Stoke the lead. Rooney, van Persie and Danny Webeck scored before the break to establish a 3-1 lead, but a Michael Kightly goal ensured a nervy time for the home side, before a second Rooney goal 25 minutes from time secured three points for Ferguson's men.
Game 9: October 28: Chelsea 2 Manchester United 3
Another high-scoring win saw United narrow the gap on Manchester City to a point at the top as Chelsea were reduced to nine men. Branislav Ivanovic was shown a red card for taking out Ashley Young, while Fernando Torres was shown a second red for simulation. Chelsea fought back to 2-2 after going 2-0 down inside 12 minutes, but a Chicharito goal 15 minutes from time sealed the win for United.
Game 10: November 3: Manchester United 2 Arsenal 1
Van Persie scored against his old club after just three minutes, taking advantage of a mistake from Thomas Vermaelen to set up a fourth straight Premier League win for United. The game was notable for another United penalty miss, this time from Rooney, while Jack Wilshere was sent off for a second yellow. Evra scored United's second, with Santi Carzola scoring a consolation goal for Arsenal.
Game 11: November 10: Aston Villa 2 Manchester United 3
United's kamikaze defending continued at Villa Park as they found themselves 2-0 again before staging another nerve-shredding comeback for their fans. Andreas Weimann struck either side of half-time, before Chichariti and a Ron Vlaar own goal drew United level. United laid siege to the Villa goal, striking the woodwork several times, before Chicharito plundered the winner with three minutes left.
Game 12: November 17: Norwich 1 Manchester United 0
Defeat at Norwich would see United's unbeaten run in the Premier League come to an end. Anthony Pilkington's header on the hour mark proved the difference between the two sides as United slipped to second in the table behind Manchester City. Having produced a string of rousing late comebacks to turn games in their favour, United were unable to sdo so at Carrow Road.
Game 13: November 24: Manchester United 3 QPR 1
United conceded first for the 13th time this season but this was the ninth time they had recovered from such a position to win in a further demonstration of their famed powers of recovery. Jamie Mackie gave bottom club QPR the lead on 52 minutes but three goals in seven minutes from Jonny Evans, Darren Fletcher and Javier Hernandez secured the win for United, who maintained top spot in the Premier League.
Game 14: November 28: Manchester United 1 West Ham 0
Van Persie scored the only goal after just 33 seconds, which ended a worrying run of five straight games for United in which they had conceded first. With a starting XI including van Persie, Rooney and Hernandez, a goal glut was expected, but little of note happened after van Persie's early strike, although Ferguson and his players were no doubt relieved to keep a first clean sheet in 10 games.
Game 15: December 1: Reading 3 Manchester United 4
Just when United thought they had tightened up at the back with a clean sheet against West Ham, along came this madcap display, which saw all seven goals come inside the first-half and Ferguson's men establish a three-point lead at the top of the table. United went behind after eight minutes but equalised through Anderson five minutes later. Rooney dispatched a penalty but two goals from Reading saw the home side lead 3-2 after 23 minutes. But Rooney and van Persie plundered goals in the 30th and 34th minutes to notch another high-scoring win for United.
Game 16: December 9: Manchester City 2 Manchester United 3
Another cracking Manchester derby was settled in controversial fashion with a deflected 90th-minute free-kick from van Persie, after United had looked to have blown it by squandering a 2-0 lead. Rooney scored twice inside the first half-hour to put United on course for a comfortable win, but goals from Yaya Tore and Pablo Zabaleta ensured a frantic finale, with van Persie's free-kick looping beyond the reach of Joe Hart to settle the game. In the celebrations that followed, Rio Ferdinand was cut on the forehead by a coin thrown from the crowd.
Game 17: December 15: Manchester United 3 Sunderland 1
Sunderland had not won at Old Trafford for 45 years and United ensured there was no danger of that run coming to an end as goals from van Persie, Tom Cleverley and Rooney saw Ferguson's men run out easy winners. United never needed to hit top gear as they dispatched Martin O'Neill's struggling side with comparative ease to maintain their six-point lead over Manchester City at the summit of the table.
Game 18: December 23: Swansea 1 Manchester United 1
United saw their lead cut to four points after a draw at the Liberty Stadium enlivened by Ferguson's post-match claim that van Persie "could have been killed" by a ball kicked at his head from point-blank range from Swansea's Ashley Williams. Ferguson's amazing post-match rant served to deflect attention from a poor United display ahead of the busy Christmas fixture programme. Evra gave United the lead after 16 minutes, but an equaliser from Michu in the 29th minute ensured it was honours even.
Game 19: December 26: Manchester United 4 Newcastle 3
The halfway point of the season saw United serve up yet another thriller, as they came from behind three times before Hernandez scored a dramatic 90th-minute winner to settle an extraordinary contest. For the second game running Ferguson was the story, ranting at ref Mike Dean and his assistants over the decision to award Newcastle a 28th-minute goal that was initially ruled out for offside, then given. But Hernandez's late winner, coupled with City's shock defeat at Sunderland, soothed Ferguson's ire as United stretched their lead to seven points.
Game 20: December 29: Manchester United 2 West Brom 0
United closed out 2012 with a comfortable win over West Brom that maintained their seven-point advantage at the top of the table. A Gareth McAuley own goal after nine minutes set United on their way to victory, with van Persie adding a second in the 90th minute. It was far from vintage United, but a pragmatic, professional job that kept their momentum going with nearest rivals City faltering.
Game 21: January 1: Wigan 0 Manchester United 4
Ferguson's side began 2013 with a bold statement of intent, two goals apiece from van Persie and Hernandez sealing victory at the DW Stadium, where a 1-0 defeat towards the end of last season proved so costly in them handing the title to City. Hernandez and van Persie both scored in the first-half to give United the upper hand at the break, and repeated that scoring sequence in the second half to close out the win.
Game 22: January 13: Manchester United 2 Liverpool 1
United extended their lead to 10 points - until City beat Arsenal later in the day - with goals from van Persie and Nemanja Vidic against their fiercest rivals, although Ferguson's men had to withstand a spirited second-half display from Liverpool. Daniel Sturridge made his Premier League debut for Liverpool after the break and scored in the 57th minute, but United managed to hold on to their slender advantage to see out the win.
Game 23: January 20: Tottenham 1 Manchester United 1
Goalkeeper David De Gea went from hero to villain as he made a succession of fine saves to preserve United's 1-0 lead, which came through van Persie's 22nd goal of the season, only for his weak punch to hand Tottenham a 90th minute equaliser through Clint Dempsey. Snow in London had threatened to see the match postponed, but it went ahead and United were left to rue two points dropped with De Gea's costly late error.
Game 24: January 30: Manchester United 2 Southampton 1
United came from behind to win for the ninth time in the Premier League, after Michael Carrick's under-hit back-pass to De Gea allowed Jay Rodriguez to nip in and give Southampton the lead after just two minutes. United got back on level terms six minutes later through Rooney, for his 100th goal at Old Trafford for the Reds. Rooney added a second after 26 minutes, but Southampton pushed United all the way in the second-half and were unlucky not to earn a point.
Game 25: February 2: Fulham 0 Manchester United 1
An expertly-taken late goal from Cristiano Ronaldo at Fulham in 2007 proved pivotal in terms of clinching the title, and Rooney scored with a similarly crucial strike at Craven Cottage to extend United's lead at the top to 10 points. United had beaten Fulham 4-1 in the FA Cup at Old Trafford seven days earlier, but this was a much tighter contest and it took until the 79th minute for Rooney to make the breakthrough with a clinically-taken strike.
Game 26: February 10: Manchester United 2 Everton 0
Kamikaze defending against Everton at Old Trafford last season saw United blow a 4-2 lead late on to draw 4-4 to begin the slide that allowed City to clinch the title. With that defeat no doubt fresh in their minds, United's players ensured there would be no repeat of it, as they took full advantahe of City's 3-1 defeat at Southampton the day before to extend their lead at the top of th table to 12 points with first-half goals from Ryan Giggs and van Persie.
Game 27: February 23: QPR 0 Manchester United 2
Rafael scored a Goal of the Season contender, a sublime 20-yard strike that rocketed past QPR keeper Julio Cesar, midway through the first-half as United took another significant step towards securing the club's 20th league title. Van Persie was forced off with a hip injury after falling down a camera pit in the build-up to United's opener, but it was the only downside for the Reds as Giggs claimed their second goal to put them 15 points clear.
Game 28: March 2: Manchester United 4 Norwich 0
Shinji Kagawa put a difficult first season at United behind him as he scored a hat-trick in United's ruthless demolition of Norwich, Ferguson's men exacting revenge for their 1-0 defeat at Carrow Road earlier in the campaign. Kagawa opened the scoring just before half-time, then completed his hat-trick with two cool finishes, before Rooney added a fourth in the 90th minute to complete the rout.
Game 29: March 16: Manchester United 1 Reading 0
United took advantage of City's 2-0 defeat at Everton earlier in the day to extend their lead at the top to 15 points, although this was not a game to remember, Rooney's scuffed 21st-minute strike settling a banal contest in the pouring rain that was low on quality and entertainment. United, well below par, were clearly suffering a hangover from their Champions League exit to Real Madrid and 2-2 FA Cup draw at home to Chelsea, where they blew a 2-0 lead.
Game 30: March 30: Sunderland 0 Manchester United 1
Ferguson's side made history at the Stadium of Light by becoming the first top-flight side in English football to win 25 of their first 30 games. With an FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea 48 hours later, Ferguson made significant changes to his team, but United managed to take three points with a gritty display, van Persie's deflected 27th-minute strike giving them victory on what was Martin O'Neill's final game in charge of Sunderland.
Game 31: April 8: Manchester United 1 Manchester City 2
City restored some pride with this deserved win in the Manchester derby, their second in a row at Old Trafford after last season's epic 6-1 win there, but it served only to trim United's lead to 12 points. James Milner put City ahea after 51 minutes, but United drew level just before the hour through a Vincent Kompany own goal. Sergio Aguero, whose dramatic late goal snatched the title from United on the final day last season, came off the bench to score with a wonderful solo effort with 12 minutes left to clinch the win.
Game 32: April 14: Stoke 0 Manchester United 2
Van Persie ended a 10-game drought with his 24th goal of the season as United dispatched Stoke with the minimum of fuss at the Britannia Stadium. With Rooney deployed in an unfamiliar deeper-lying midfield role, United were always in control and took the lead in the fourth minute through Carrick, before a penalty, earned and converted by van Persie in the 67th minute, nudged United closer to their title coronation.
Game 33: April 17: West Ham 2 Manchester United 2
United twice came from behind to snatch a point in a hard-fought game Ferguson compared to the Alamo. The United boss was incensed West Ham striker was not sent off for taking out De Gea at a corner, but praised his side's strength of character in never giving in. Ricardo Vaz Te gave West Ham the lead, with Antonio Valencia equalising with his first goal of the season after 31 minutes. Mohamed Diame restored the home side's lead, but van Persie's 25th goal of the season earned United a point.
Game 34: April 22: Manchester United 3 Aston Villa 0
Robin van Persie eased fans' nerves with a first-half hat-trick, the opener after just 90 seconds. The second was a sensational volley from a Wayne Rooney pass, and the third really got the party started.