United make it eight in a row to go eight points clear

Manchester United chalked up an eighth successive Premier League win, but were given a helping hand in a 2-0 victory over 10-man Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford.

Wayne Rooney and the excellent Paul Scholes scored the goals for the champions, but relegation battlers QPR were on the end of two dubious decisions in the opening quarter of an hour.

Rooney, who was fortunate to escape punishment for an earlier rash challenge on Samba Diakite, drilled the Red Devils in front from the penalty spot after an incident which saw Shaun Derry sent off.

The QPR captain was penalised for an apparent tug on Ashley Young, but the United winger made the most of any contact and was also offside when the ball was played into the box.

QPR were already struggling to get a foothold in the game at that stage and, despite the occasional foray into the opposition half, spent most of the match penned in by the leaders.

Danny Welbeck’s profligacy was a cause for angst, and Rafael da Silva was denied by a combination of Paddy Kenny and the crossbar, before the irrepressible Scholes put the game beyond doubt by rifling home from 25 yards on 68 minutes.

Michael Carrick then smacked a thunderbolt against the post, but it was his midfield cohort Scholes who earned the plaudits with a performance which could strengthen the calls for the 37-year-old to be called into England’s Euro 2012 squad.

For the second time in 24 hours, a side mired in relegation trouble were the victims of a shocking decision as QPR’s hopes of capitalising on Wigan’s misfortune on Saturday were virtually ended after 13 minutes when skipper Derry was sent off for fouling Young inside the box.

Contact was minimal to start with, that Young was clearly offside when he received Rooney’s through ball just made the call from referee Lee Mason even more farcical.

The linesman was in exactly the right position too, making his judgement even more mystifying.

Hughes strode the touchline in utter disbelief just as Roberto Martinez had done at Stamford Bridge 24 hours earlier.

Behind, down in numbers and without Joey Barton, who is one booking away from a two-match ban, and Bobby Zamora, left on the bench after a recent head cold, QPR found themselves in an impossible situation.

United effectively set up camp around the visitors’ penalty area and the only wonder was they had not increased their advantage by half-time. Rooney brought a couple of decent saves out of Kenny, first with a curling free-kick, then a chip that was bound for the top corner.

Antonio Valencia was furious that a far more plausible penalty appeal than the one that had been given was turned down after he had been bundled over by Taye Taiwo.

Patrice Evra lashed a shot wide and Welbeck had an effort charged down by Anton Ferdinand as QPR mounted a brave rearguard action.

Selected ahead of Javier Hernandez, Welbeck was eager to do well but was denied a goal at the start of the second half by an offside decision that was far closer than the earlier one.

Welbeck then fired well over from an acute angle, much to the frustration of Sir Alex Ferguson. As with their previous home game against Fulham, United were failing to make their pressure tell.

Rooney was the next to waste an opportunity, although it was a half-chance, and Kenny needed to make a save.

Rafael should have scored after being brilliantly picked out by Scholes but the young Brazilian panicked, driving his shot straight at Kenny, who had gone down early, the ball then rising up onto the crossbar and bouncing to safety.

Welbeck was set up by Rooney and despite having two goes, failed to beat Kenny, who repelled the initial shot, then gathered the follow-up as it was stabbed goalwards.

It needed an old head to take control and Scholes duly obliged, drilling home from 25 yards after Abel Taarabt had gifted possession to Rafael.

Carrick’s ferocious 35-yard shot came crashing back off a post as United tried to improve their goal difference, which Ferguson continues to insist might be significant.

The return of DJ Campbell after three months out with a hamstring injury could be just as notable for QPR, although that is of small comfort for Hughes, who stormed away shaking his head at the injustice of it all.