|Scholes fired in United's opener ahead of Chelsea's defeat at City [GALLO/GETTY]
Shay Given saved a late Frank Lampard penalty to give Manchester City a 2-1 win over English Premier League leaders Chelsea - and give their city rivals United a boost in the title race.
Former United striker Carlos Tevez scored a free kick early in the second half in what would prove to be the winner in an electrifying game at Eastlands after an Emmanuel Adebayor own goal gave Chelsea the lead, and the Togolese levelled matters for City before the break.
United had kept the heat on Chelsea at the top of the English Premier League with a 4-0 win at West Ham United. The Londoners' lead at the top is now down to two points.
City move up to sixth.
Arsenal responded to their defeat to Chelsea last week with a 2-0 win over Stoke, while Liverpool's poor season continued in a goalless draw at Blackburn Rovers.
Birmingham City came from a goal down at half time to win 3-2 at Wigan Athletic while Hull City lost 3-0 at Aston Villa.
Hull also suffered the blow of another injury to midfielder Jimmy Bullard, who hurt his left knee and left the pitch in agony at Villa Park.
Bottom club Portsmouth got their first win under new manager Avram Grant as Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Bolton 2-1.
Paul Scholes, a Darron Gibson howitzer and goals from Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney gave United an emphatic win at Upton Park and closed the gap at the top of the table to two points ahead of Chelsea's match at Manchester City.
Manager Alex Ferguson was pleased with the points but could not hide his frustration after seeing Gary Neville and Wes Brown limp off to join his long list of injured defenders, forcing him to finish the game with Ryan Giggs playing in the back four.
"It's a big day for us because we had six defenders missing before the game and, of course, Gary Neville then goes off after 30 minutes and it put us under pressure," Ferguson told Sky Sports.
"Then Wes Brown's had to come off, so we are down to the bare bones I am afraid.
"We finished it well. Once we got that second goal we never stopped, we went to try and kill the game off.
"We've added two goals and 4-0 is a good scoreline away from home, good for goal difference, good for the confidence of the team, so we are very pleased."
Cesc Fabregas missed a penalty for Arsenal before Andrei Arshavin and Aaron Ramsey ended the Gunners' losing streak.
Promoted Birmingham moved up to eighth place with their third win in a row, beating Wigan with a quickfire blitz of second-half goals.
Wigan were strolling after Charles N'Zogbia scored a solo goal, but Sebastian Larsson scored two free kicks either side of a Christian Benitez goal before Wigan scored a late consolation through Jordi Gomez.