United take advantage of ten-man QPR
QPR's hopes of capitalising on Wigan Athletic's defeat yesterday were virtually ended after 13 minutes when captain Shaun Derry was sent off for fouling Ashley Young inside the box.
Wayne Rooney converted the penalty kick and United should have run up a huge score, such was their overwhelming dominance thereafter. Instead, they were forced to rely on a second-half piledriver from Paul Scholes to wrap up a win that keeps them on course to clinch yet another championship.
Behind, down in numbers and without Joey Barton, who is one booking away from a two-match ban, and Bobby Zamora, left on the bench after a recent head cold, QPR found themselves in an impossible situation.
United effectively set up camp around the visitors' penalty area and the only wonder was they had not increased their advantage by half-time. Rooney brought a couple of decent saves out of Paddy Kenny, first with a curling free-kick, then a chip that was bound for the top corner.
Patrice Evra lashed a shot wide and Danny Welbeck had an effort charged down by Anton Ferdinand as QPR mounted a brave rearguard action. Selected ahead of Javier Hernandez, Welbeck was eager to do well but was denied a goal at the start of the second half by an offside call.
Welbeck then fired well over from an acute angle, much to the frustration of Sir Alex Ferguson. As with their previous home game against Fulham, United were failing to make their pressure tell. Rooney was the next to waste an opportunity, although it was a half-chance, and Kenny needed to make a save.
Scholes secures victory
Rafael should have scored after being brilliantly picked out by Scholes but the young Brazilian panicked, driving his shot straight at Kenny, who had gone down early, the ball then rising up onto the crossbar and bouncing to safety.
Welbeck was set up by Rooney but, despite having two efforts, failed to beat Kenny, who repelled the initial shot, then gathered the follow-up as it was stabbed goalwards.
It needed an old head to take control and Scholes duly obliged, drilling home from 25 yards after Abel Taarabt had gifted possession to Rafael. Michael Carrick's ferocious 35-yard shot came crashing back off a post as United tried to improve their goal difference, which Ferguson continues to insist might be significant.