QPR 0, MAN UNITED 2.
Manchester United’s resounding win at Queens Park Rangers again showed it foolhardy to dismiss their Barclays Premier League title challenge.
The Reds, written off in the aftermath of their 6-1 defeat in the Manchester derby, even had the temerity to temporarily wrestle top top spot from their rivals, if only for little over four hours.
But after a weekend of unpredictable results, it is looking more and more a battle between the Mancunian foes for the championship.
The quality of the football from United at Loftus Road was back to their scintillating early-season best when they plundered eight goals past hapless Arsenal.
Indeed, with more clinical finishing, United could have triumphed by an equally emphatic scoreline.
Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick were the goalscorers but Jonny Evans and Phil Jones were denied by the frame of the goal while home keeper Radek Cerny produced some super saves, including a stunner to deny Antonio Valencia.
Sir Alex Ferguson, who was in charge for his 750th Premier League game, lamented: “We should have put the game to bed after 30 minutes. Their keeper made two fantastic saves, but we were wasteful.
“It was a good performance, but we ought to have scored a lot more goals.”
And as long as United can maintain their momentum, Ferguson believes the title is far from a one-horse race as many have suggested.
“If at New Year we are at the ball park, we have a great chance,” he said.
It was the first time United had named an unchanged side since the early-season rout against Arsenal.
And it took United only 53 seconds to make the breakthrough as Rooney, making his 299th league appearance, headed home a Valencia cross at the far post, albeit in an ungainly manner for his 14th goal of the season.
The fact it took until the 56th minute for United to score their second was a matter of surprise.
Danny Welbeck had the ball in the net, but the goal was wrongly ruled out for offside, Evans headed against the crossbar while Cerny made a brilliant double save to deny Rooney and Valencia and then thwart Jones with his outstretched leg.
The opening half was by no means one-way traffic as Jay Bothroyd had two clear-cut chances while Heidar Helguson also went close.
The second goal was well worth the wait, a superb individual effort from Carrick. He dispossessed Joey Barton on the half-way line and weaved a path towards goal before firing low past Cerny from the edge of the penalty area.
It was a goal very much out of character from the player who is usually an anchor man in the middle. What a way also to end his 11-month scoring famine.
United ought to have reduced the goal-difference deficit on the leaders as they carved open the home defence with ease.
Rooney came within a whisker of scoring a second goal, Welbeck was denied by another super Cerny save while Jones struck an upright. Nani and substitute Javier Hernandez could also have got in on the act as they had to settle for a modest return of two goals.