United need a draw to win it

Alex Ferguson salutes the fans after his team move one point away from securing a historic 19th championship title

    Javier 'Chicarito' Hernandez has scored 13 league goals and 20 overall in his debut season for United [EPA]

    Manchester United were on the brink of English Premier League glory after a 2-1 victory over closest rivals Chelsea.

    Javier Hernandez's pre-match prayers were quickly answered when he put Manchester United ahead after just 36 seconds of Sunday's match.

    It was the Mexican's 19th goal of a remarkable debut season and a goal that helped put Manchester United within touching distance of their 19th Premier League title.

    Captain Nemanja Vidic headed home United's second in the 23rd minute after connecting with Ryan Giggs' cross to give United a comfortable cushion. Veteran Giggs played his part in both of the goals and was a dominating presence for United alongside Park Ji-Sung who ran the Chelsea defenders ragged.

    Frank Lampard pulled one back for Chelsea in the second half but it wasn’t enough to stop a fired-up United achieve the win they so desperately needed.

    Done and dusted

    United are now six points clear of Chelsea with two games to go and will regain the trophy from the London club with at least a draw at Blackburn on Saturday.

    Ferguson was thrilled by his Mexican signing's early goal and in jubilant mood throughout the game, bowing down to the crowd after the final whistle had blown.

    "The players won't muck it up. They'll get the point," he said.

    United can even afford to lose their matches against Blackburn and Blackpool if Chelsea fail to secure a maximum of six points from their remaining fixtures.

    "It's a massive step forward, mathematically it's not done but we are nearly there and we need to finish the job off next week," said United midfielder Ryan Giggs.

    By becoming champions of England for the 19th time, United will overtake Liverpool on the leaderboard - ensuring Ferguson fulfils the target he set back when he took charge in 1986: to knock the Reds "off their perch."  

    "It took time to get the foundations of the club right and after we got the first title we improved, improved and improved," said the Scot.

    Ferguson had to wait until 1992 to win the title for the first time and this is a factor Roman Abramovich should consider when deciding the fate of Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti.

    Despite Ancelotti’s failure to win any silverware this season he has shown a steely resolve that could lead to success further down the line for Chelsea.
    The Chelsea coach admitted that the better team had won on the day.

    "United were really strong today and it was hard for us to come back. When a team plays better than you, you have to accept it, Manchester United deserved to win today so there is no disappointment. We were not at our best," he said.

    Ancelotti also conceded that United deserved to succeed Chelsea as champions.

    "They only need one point so they are comfortable to win the title, they deserve to win the title and we have to accept it."

    Arsenal falter… again!

    Manchester United’s victory ended Arsenal's title hopes after the third-place side lost 3-1 at Stoke earlier in the day.

    Stoke took the lead when Kenwyne Jones got on the end of Jermaine Pennant’s free-kick to bundle the ball home. Then former Gunner Pennant - who was in ferocious form - got himself on the score sheet by firing a shot past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny just before half time.

    Although Robin van Persie pulled one back for Arsenal in the 81st minute, Jon Walters produced an immediate response for Stoke.

    The win was good preparation for Stoke's meeting with Manchester City on Saturday in the FA Cup final.

    With Arsene Wenger preparing for a sixth successive season without a trophy, the manager was left contemplating why his team continue to lose crucial matches.

    "Something has gone (from the team) - you can see that today," he said.

    Packing on the pressure 

    Wolverhampton Wanderers improved their chances of staying in the English Premier League and gave their relegation rivals major cause for concern as they beat West Bromwich Albion 3-1.

    Results and fixtures

    Saturday May 7

     Aston Villa 1-1 Wigan
     Bolton 1-2 Sunderland
     Everton 2 -1 Man City
     Newcastle 2-1 Birmingham
     West Ham 1-1 Blackburn
     Tottenham 1-1 Blackpool

    Sunday May 8

     Wolves 3-1 West Brom 
     Stoke 3-1 Arsenal 
     Man Utd 2-1 Chelsea

    Wolves capitalised on poor defending by their Black Country neighbours to score twice in 13 first-half minutes through Stephen Fletcher and Adlene Guedioura.

    Fletcher added a third goal after another defensive mistake by Abdoulaye Meite two minutes after half-time. West Brom replied when Peter Odemwingie scored for the fifth successive league match with a 55th-minute penalty after Guedioura tripped Jerome Thomas in the box.

    The win lifted Wolves out of the relegation zone - a point above Blackpool and Wigan.

    Wolves boss Mick McCarthy told BBC Sport after the victory how he tortures himself by following the results of his relegation-threatened rivals.

    "Listening and watching everybody puts more stress on me than today did. I much prefer being in control of my own destiny," said the former Irish international.  

    After a powerful team display at Old Trafford these are words Manchester United and Ferguson would certainly agree with. 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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