Man United beats QPR to surge ahead of City
Manchester United closed in on a 20th English championship title on Sunday after Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes scored in a 2-0 victory over 10-man Queens Park Rangers and title rival Manchester City lost at Arsenal.
With six rounds to go, an eighth straight league win put United eight points clear of City, which lost 1-0.
Rooney fired his 30th goal of the season from a 15th-minute penalty after Ashley Young seemed to be pushed over by QPR captain Shaun Derry. Derry was sent off despite replays suggesting Young was offside and there was minimal contact.
''I thought it was offside,'' United manager Alex Ferguson said. ''Derry has just had a little tug that's enough to unbalance Ashley. As the last defender, the referee has no option.''
QPR manager Mark Hughes was less convinced. ''We are desperately disappointed with the performance of the referee,'' he said. ''The assistant didn't have the opportunity to put his flag up because the penalty had already been given.
''The boy (Young) has gone over too easily and the referee has bought it unfortunately.''
United created chance after chance against 10 men, but relegation-threatened QPR resisted until Scholes lashed home a trademark drive for the second in the 68th.
''Before the sending off, I thought we played very well,'' Ferguson said. ''The sending off put us in the comfort zone where we were far too casual.''
Rooney, playing in a more central role with the recall of Young on the left, was at the center of United's dominance.
The England striker had a free kick deflected just wide in the third minute and went even closer four minutes later with another free kick that QPR goalkeeper Paddy Kenny dived to push away.
The 37-year-old Scholes, who came out of retirement in January to bolster United's title push, was also in imperious form.
''It was a typical Paul Scholes goal,'' said Ferguson. ''You see the control of the game he has, the control of the tempo of the game. It's never changed, he's just a great, great player.''
Unsurprisingly, Rooney was the architect of the opening goal, threading a pass through the defense for Young, who was adjudged to have been bundled over by Derry.
Replays suggested Young was offside when the pass was played, but Derry was sent off as the last defender and Rooney hammered the ensuing penalty into the bottom corner for his 22nd league goal of the season.
Rooney had an effort blocked by Clint Hill from Antonio Valencia's pass soon after as United exerted relentless pressure on the QPR backline.
The London side broke out of defense when Adel Taarabt caught Rafael Da Silva in possession, but his shot was blocked by Jonny Evans in the 33rd.
Kenny was tested again by Rooney's lofted shot in the 35th, while Valencia went down in the box under Taye Taiwo's challenge soon after, though nothing was given.
Scholes drove a shot wide in first-half stoppage time, and United continued in the same vein after the break with Welbeck denied a goal by the linesman's flag in the 47th.
Welbeck scooped a shot wide from Young's back-heel in the 49th, while Rooney's low shot was smothered by Kenny in the 55th.
Scholes played an inch-perfect pass for Da Silva to break into the box in the 59th, but Kenny somehow deflected the shot onto the post and the ball rebounded to safety.
United's only worry was failing to increase the lead, but Scholes eventually gave United a two-goal cushion, collecting the ball outside the box and drilling a low shot into the bottom corner from 25 yards (meters).
Michael Carrick hit the woodwork for United with a flying drive from distance that crashed against a post in the 77th and Welbeck pulled a shot wide in the 82nd as United cantered home.
''We've been in this position before, so that counts for a lot,'' United defender Rio Ferdinand said. ''We know what it takes to get over the finishing line first.''