Carlos Tevez (left) clashes with Joey Barton during the Premiership match on Sunday. 
The history books will record that victory belonged to Manchester City when the Premier League title race was decided on Sunday.

In reality, the game of association football was a loser last weekend, a real loser.

As you may know, drama was to the fore as City sneaked past their Manchester rivals United in the final three minutes of a quite dramatic season.

When Sergio Aguero, Diego Maradona’s son-in-law, fired the winning goal against QPR with just seconds remaining on the clock he made grown men cry – of a red and a blue persuasion, but for very different reasons.

Men who have been City fans for years cried with the wonder of it all as two goals in the final extra-time minutes of their game with QPR ensured the title was theirs, as Manchester United waited to celebrate after their own final day victory at Sunderland.

One Manchester City fanatic I know even went out to his back garden to be physically sick, such were the demands of the occasion as the Blue Moon finally rose with real purpose for the first time since 1968.

Real City fans -- and they have all come out of the woodwork these past few days -- will tell you that even their last English championship triumph was usurped by United and George Best with their European Cup final win against Eusebio and Benfica at Wembley.

This time there was no doubt who the day and the season belonged to at close of play on Sunday as Vincent Kompany raised that trophy high above his shoulders and the City of Manchester stadium saluted new heroes.

The reality, of course, is somewhat different to the romantic notion that City won the league under their own steam with those two late goals against the London Rangers.

In truth the title was won for them by an old boy, a footballer by the name of Joey Barton whose behavior on and off the field has long been of the unsavory variety.

Barton was sent off on Sunday long before Aguero put the ball in the QPR net.

The nature of his sending-off, after a spat with Carlos Tevez that was one-sided in its punishment, still grates today, a full two days after the event.

Barton, as is his wont, didn’t go quietly after he was red carded for lashing out at Tevez, in retaliation as he later claimed.

Before he got to the tunnel he had kicked Nasri, attempted to head-butt Kompany and exchanged pleasantries with the one and only Mario Balotelli, then on the City bench.

By the end of the game, the dramatic end, Barton was both villain and hero, not that he has received much credit for his heroic gesture on City’s part.

The truth is that City would not have won the league without Barton’s irrational act of stupidity.

His dismissal – and the chaos that ensued as he went off for that early bath – were the reason why the referee added five minutes extra-time to the City-QPR game on Sunday.

Barton’s removal from the action explains why City were still playing, and still in with a chance of winning the league that seemed theirs for the taking at the start of the day, long after United had finished their season a hundred-plus miles up the road at Sunderland.

City fans have been making much since Sunday of the fact that they won the game in added time -- Fergie time as they like to call it in reference to the fact that United win so many matches after the 90 minutes have been played.

What they have yet to acknowledge is that their game went into overtime thanks to their former player Barton, a man now facing a 10 game ban for his behavior from the English FA and possible expulsion from QPR by his club’s board.

His later attempts to explain himself on Twitter – when he also derided that English institution Gary Lineker – did little or nothing to endear Barton to anyone bar himself, but the fact remains that he played a huge part in the destination of the Premier League crown last Sunday.

He also helped Carlos Tevez, the man who went on strike for much of the campaign, leave the ground with a league winner’s medal around his neck.

By Monday evening, Tevez was taking a leaf of Barton’s book and misbehaving.

As City made their way around Manchester on an open-top bus tour, Tevez lifted a homemade banner with the phrase “Fergie RIP” plain for all to see.

The dig at his former Manchester United boss was in particularly bad taste, but we should not have been surprised. Class is not a word in his vocabulary.

Tevez did apologize on Tuesday but so what? Like Barton, his brand of behavior triumphed on Sunday.

And that made football a loser on a weekend of winners.

*Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin

KATIE Taylor is edging ever closer to the Olympic Games in London. At the time of writing she has won through to the quarterfinals at the World Championships in China and looks set to realize her Olympic dream sometime between now and the weekend. When she does, we should acknowledge the Bray girl as one of our greatest sports stars. Ever.

JOEY Barton and Carlos Tevez share this honor, one for his behavior on the field of play in Manchester on Sunday and the other for his behavior on an open top bus in the same city on Monday evening. The fact they have both made absolute fortunes from the beautiful game really sticks in the throat right now.