Man Utd 2, QPR 0
As the finishing line to their 20th top flight title gets nearer and nearer, so Manchester United’s performances resemble more a day at the office than a mighty chore.
Wayne Rooney’s first-half penalty and Paul Scholes’ second-half piledriver put the Reds eight points clear of neighbours City at the top of the Premier League.
In a season of milestones, Easter Sunday proved probably the pivotal date.
United’s Old Trafford win over Queen’s Park Rangers proved the icing on an Easter egg wrapped with a bright red bow.
City’s defeat at Arsenal less than three hours later left the Blues with egg on their faces.
But it would not be a normal home game without at least one moment of controversy and this game provided it in the 14th minute.
United winger Ashley Young was clearly offside in the Rangers box when he collected a Rooney pass.
Rangers captain Shaun Derry was across to Young, who went down under the merest touch of the foot and almost tap on the shoulder.
Referee Lee Mason pointed to the penalty spot and showed the unlucky Derry a red card as the last defender.
Rooney stepped up to dispatch the resulting spot kick into the bottom right corner of the net with goalkeeper Paddy Kenny going the right way, but beaten by the power of the shot.
If there was a huge doubt about the merit of United’s first goal, there was no such ambiguity about the second.
Scholes had seen his first two shots fly well wide of the target. His third, in the 68th minute, sped like a rocket from 25 yards into the bottom right corner of the net.
Rangers had set their stall out to protect their goal with a packed central midfield – four forwards were on the bench – and United goalkeeper David De Gea was rarely troubled.
The magnificent Scholes and Michael Carrick were left to engineer a way through those blue and white hooped ranks, although Rangers’ tactics left space for Young and Antonio Valencia on the flanks.
Rooney and striking partner Danny Welbeck dropped deeper to combat the visitors’ plan, but United’s early goal left the Londoners playing catchup.
United made life harder for themsleves with a tendency to overelaborate – especially in the Rangers box with real chances few and far between.
Young, Welbeck and Rooney all had opportunities, while Welbeck had an effort ruled out for offside two minutes into the second half.
Despite this, United would at least have doubled their tally had it not been for the woodwork.
In the 59th minute, Rafael was found free inside the Rangers penalty area by the most glorious of chipped passes from Scholes.
With only Kenny to beat, the Brazilian right-back hit his shot straight at the Rangers goalkeeper from eight yards and the ball was deflected on to the bar.
Carrick, who scored one of his rare goals against Rangers at Loftus Road in December, was unlucky not to repeat his feat 13 minutes from time with a blistering 30-yard drive which came back off the inside of a post.
De Gea’s only real worry came in the 21st minute when he turned over Adel Taarabt’s 25-yard shot which took a wicked deflection off Carrick.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: “I thought Ashley was a yard offside for the penalty and I can understand Rangers being disappointed. Derry was unfortunate to be sent off as the last defender.
“We kept missing in those vital moments, hitting the bar and post. There was a lot happening, but the second goal from Scholes calmed everyone down.
“We did not shoot enough from outside the box. When they went down to 10 men, we thought we could notch up the goals, but Rangers defended well.”