Manchester United 2 QPR 0: Rooney's dubious penalty fires Reds closer to title
14:40 GMT, 8 April 2012
Manchester United went eight points clear at the top of the Premier League thanks to a hugely controversial 2-0 win over 10-man QPR at Old Trafford.
The visitors never had a chance once referee Lee Mason had deemed Shaun Derry's 13th-minute challenge on Ashley Young worthy of a red card and a penalty, which would have been a debatable call anyway even without the United man receiving the ball in a clear offside position.
Wayne Rooney rammed home the penalty but it took a Paul Scholes piledriver midway through the second half to seal a victory which keeps QPR above the relegation zone on goal difference.
Job done: Paul Scholes (right) celebrates with team-mates Ryan Giggs (centre) and Antonio Valencia
Man Utd: De Gea, Rafael Da Silva (Jones 74), Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Scholes (Cleverley 74), Carrick, Young (Giggs 61), Rooney, Welbeck.
Subs not used: Amos, Park, Hernandez, Pogba.
Booked: Rafael Da Silva
Goals: Rooney pen 15, Scholes 68.
QPR: Kenny, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Hill, Taiwo, Diakite (Wright-Phillips 71), Derry, Mackie, Taarabt (Smith 71), Buzsaky, Bothroyd (Campbell 81).
Subs not used: Cerny, Gabbidon,Young, Zamora.
Sent off: Derry
Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire)
United should have run up a huge score, such was their overwhelming dominance after the opening goal.
Yet the recriminations will last for some time.
Indeed, after this weekend's events, some bosses would argue what should be a thrilling fight to avoid relegation is in danger of being decided by who ends up with the most incompetent officials. That so much in prestige and finance is being risked seems frankly wrong.
The two abysmal decisions that condemned Wigan to defeat at Chelsea on Saturday were matched by the appalling conclusion reached when Rooney slid his pass through to Young.
The linesman was in exactly the right position too, making his judgement even more mystifying.
Hughes strode the touchline in utter disbelief just as Roberto Martinez had done at Stamford Bridge 24 hours earlier.
Club officials protested vehemently on Twitter, with chief executive Phil Beard likening Young to British Olympic diving hopeful Tom Daley and owner Tony Fernandes declaring simply: 'Awful. Spoilt another game'. Fernandes also wrote that the club intended to appeal Derry's red card.
Rooney did not care of course, ramming home the spot-kick for his 29th goal of the season.
Contentious: Ashley Young falls under the challenge of Shaun Derry, who was sent off (below)
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.
Spot on: Wayne Rooney fires home the penalty as Manchester United take the lead against QPR
Antonio Valencia was furious that a far more plausible penalty appeal than the one that had been given was turned down after he had been bundled over by Taye Taiwo.
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 decision that was far closer than the earlier one.
Opening salvo: Rooney celebrates after putting United in front against QPR at Old Trafford
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.
Come on ref! QPR manager Mark Hughes won't be happy with the decisions that went against his side
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 and
despite having two goes, 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.
Double trouble: Scholes fires home from long range to make the three points safe at Old Trafford
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.
The return of DJ Campbell after three months out with a hamstring injury, could be just as notable for QPR, although that is of small comfort for Hughes, who just like Martinez yesterday, stormed away shaking his head at the injustice of it all.