Rafael and Giggs on target in QPR defeat
Rafael's exquisite strike helped Manchester United stay on course for the Barclays Premier League title as embattled QPR's survival hopes took another blow following a 2-0 result.
The Brazilian right-back's first-half effort set Sir Alex Ferguson's side on course for a victory. Ryan Giggs made sure of a win that was never really in doubt late on at Loftus Road, where the only blot on a perfect afternoon for United was a knock to Robin van Persie.
Only an unparalleled meltdown will now stop United winning a 20th league crown, while only the greatest of escapes will see QPR stave off relegation.
Proceedings got off to a slow start in west London, where it took 13 minutes for the first chance of note to be created. After being caught on the edge of the box by Jose Bosingwa, making his first appearance since December 8, Nani connected with the resulting free-kick, only to see his flicked header go wide.
United did not have to wait long for the opener, though, with Rafael thumping home in style after 23 minutes.
Adel Taarabt lost possession in his own half and play developed down the right, allowing Van Persie to wriggle free and hit a cross. Julio Cesar parried the acute drive but the ball fell kindly for Rafael, who hammered a 25-yard strike into the top corner.
The right-back then helped United counter, sending a fine ball over the top to Van Persie, who saw a brilliant left-footed volley denied in equally impressive fashion by Cesar.
It was the Holland international's last contribution before he was replaced by Danny Welbeck, having appeared to sustain a hip complaint earlier in the half.
Despite his exit, United continued to dominate and almost immediately doubled their advantage as Giggs swung in a free-kick for the unmarked Nemanja Vidic to flash a header inches wide.
The visitors did grab a second goal 10 minutes from time as Nani played a cute ball through to Giggs, whose strike from an acute angle beat Cesar to send the 3,081 visiting supporters into raptures.