Ten-man QPR trail at Old Trafford after Wayne Rooney’s controversial 15th-minute penalty.
Already massive underdogs against the champions, Rangers’ cause was not helped by a dismal refereeing decision.
Referee Lee Mason pointed to the spot and then red-carded Shaun 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 Rooney’s pass.
Keeper Paddy Kenny went the right way but was unable to save the resulting penalty – Rooney’s 29th goal of the season.
United had been well on top – Clint Hill cleared off the line and Kenny kept out a Rooney free-kick early on – but Rangers appeared to have weathered the predictable early storm before United were helped along by the officials.
Derry’s sending-off was Rangers’ seventh red card 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, QPR were forced into damage limitation, and United should have doubled their lead when Rooney’s cross was headed wide by an unmarked Young.
Rangers are 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.