United ease to victory
Manchester United threw down the gauntlet to Manchester City by reclaiming top spot in the Barclays Premier League with a comfortable 2-0 win at QPR.
Wayne Rooney scored his 15th goal of the season after just 52 seconds and the champions missed a succession of chances before Michael Carrick's first top-flight goal for almost two years all but sealed the points.
United could easily have scored six against a QPR side who twice went close themselves through Heidar Helguson and also saw substitute DJ Campbell miss the easiest of volleys.
It took the visitors 52 seconds to strike. Rooney nodded the ball out to Antonio Valencia before bursting into the box and stooping to head home the winger's cross.
Only a block from Danny Gabbidon prevented Danny Welbeck making it 2-0 minutes later, while Welbeck was wrongly flagged offside after steering in what he thought was United's second goal before Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Valencia all ought to have scored in the space of three minutes just before the half-hour.
QPR almost made United pay for their wastefulness when David De Gea saved Helguson's low strike with his leg, while Jay Bothroyd was close with a skidding shot from 20 yards.
The away side held their one-goal lead through to the interval, and United continued to look more likely to score the game's second goal after the break.
And they did just that in the 56th minute when Joey Barton gifted the ball to Carrick, who was allowed to carry it 30 yards before drilling beyond Radek Cerny.
The gulf in class was becoming embarrassing as Jones sidefooted against the post with 20 minutes remaining and, while substitute Campbell should have done better than volley Adel Taarabt's cross over, United were rarely troubled.