Manchester United 2 QPR 0
Ten-man QPR were well beaten at Old Trafford and were not helped by a dismal refereeing decision.
Already massive underdogs against the champions, Rangers were left facing an even tougher task after Shaun Derry was sent off in the 15th minute.
Referee Lee Mason awarded a penalty and red-carded Derry when Ashley Young went down in the box after the R’s midfielder did little more than place a hand on his back.
Not only was contact minimal, Young was in an offside position as he looked to latch onto Wayne Rooney’s pass.
Keeper Paddy Kenny went the right way but was unable to save the resulting spot-kick by Rooney – the England forward’s 29th goal of the season.
The early goal and sending-off effectively made the game safe for Manchester United, and any doubt was removed midway through the second half, when Paul Scholes fired into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men had been well on top prior to the opener – Clint Hill cleared off the line and Kenny kept out a Rooney free-kick – but Rangers appeared to have weathered the predictable early storm before United were helped along by the officials.
Derry’s red card was QPR’s seventh of the season and while their indiscipline will be a major factor in their relegation if they fail to escape the drop, this dismissal was harsh to put it mildly and any appeal by the club would surely succeed.
Inevitably, Rangers were forced into damage limitation, and United should have doubled their lead when Rooney’s cross was headed wide by an unmarked Young.
United had the ball in the net again early in the second half, but this time the flag was raised after an offside Danny Welbeck tucked away Antonio Valencia’s cross.
The pressure continued and Welbeck blazed over before Kenny pushed an effort from Rafael onto the woodwork.
But Kenny was unable to rescue his team when Adel Taarabt gave the ball away and Scholes belted home.
Michael Carrick almost added a third wih a 30-yard thunderbolt which beat Kenny and smashed against the inside of the post.
Rangers were without Joey Barton and Bobby Zamora, with Akos Buzsaky and Jay Bothroyd starting in their place.
Zamora has been ill, while boss Mark Hughes opted not to risk Barton as the midfielder is a booking away from being suspended.
Wednesday’s visit of Swansea always seemed a more realistic chance for Hughes’ side to pick up points in their battle to stay up, and both players are expected to return for that crucial match.