Patient United build on lead
Manchester United took a big step to retaining their Premier League title after in-form Antonio Valencia struck nine minutes from time to set up a typically patient 2-0 win at relegation-threatened Blackburn Rovers on Monday.
Second-placed Manchester City's 3-3 home draw with Sunderland on Saturday had given United the chance to ram home their advantage and with seven games remaining they are five points ahead and now look odds-on for glory.
Ecuador winger Valencia, a driving force all game, ended Blackburn's resistance after prolonged United pressure when he came inside and sent a swerving effort into the far corner although he acknowledged it was "50/50" a shot and a cross.
Substitute Ashley Young grabbed the second in style on 86 minutes.
"It was a great result and great performance. We knew we were always going to create chances," Young told Sky Sports.
"It is a massive lead for us. We've just got to take each game as it comes."
United, who lost to local rivals Blackburn at home in December, also have a patchy record at Ewood Park but won a record 19th English title there last season and always looked dangerous.
It was a professional display that fans expect of experienced title pretenders United at this stage of the season and they never panicked despite time ticking away.
Pundits agree that United's side is not as strong as some of their other championship teams and there could still be more twists in the run-in, especially with City hosting United on April 30.