Carlos Tevez helped Manchester United take a giant stride towards the Premier League title as Sir Alex Ferguson's side coasted to victory over Manchester City at Old Trafford Sunday.
Tevez, whose future at United is in doubt, scored in the 2-0 victory which sent Ferguson's side three points clear at the top of the table with three games remaining.
Cristiano Ronaldo's 26th goal of the campaign had given the hosts an early lead before Argentina striker Tevez doubled the lead on the stroke of half time.
Tevez joined United in the 2007 close season on a two-year loan deal which ends this summer. He has expressed his frustration at failing to cement a regular starting place in the side and was quoted in a national newspaper on the morning of the game as saying he thinks he will leave because "I have not been treated as a member of the family".
Tevez celebrated his 14th goal of the campaign by running over the main stand, close to where the United manager was sat, and cupping his ears while the crowd chanted "Fergie, Fergie sign him up".
The result leaves the Champions League finalists requiring just four points from their remaining three matches to be crowned champions of England for a record-equalling 18th time.
Liverpool, their closest challengers, do not play until May 17 by which time the race could be all over as United have games at mid-table Wigan on Wednesday followed by a home match with Arsenal on May 16.
Rafa Benitez, the Liverpool manager, has been desperately hoping for a United slip but the truth is Ferguson's side are finishing the season in ruthless fashion.
This was their sixth successive league win since losing back-to-back games to Liverpool and Fulham in March.
Having won at Old Trafford last season, City were seen as hazardous opponents but United were untroubled as they brushed their Manchester neighbours aside without key players Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand in the side.
Life-long City fan Ricky Hatton, defeated by Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines last week, was at Old Trafford to cheer on his side but the boxer witnessed United deliver a knockout blow.
The visitors never recovered from Ronaldo's stunning 18th minute opening goal, a 30-yard free-kick which deflected off Nigel De Jong before hitting the net.
City were unimpressed the free-kick had been awarded in the first place, referee Chris Foy harshly adjudging Stephen Ireland to have fouled Dimitar Berbatov.
Nevertheless United had the lead and Ronaldo had his revenge after being sent off during United's 1-0 win at City back in November.
City had arrived at Old Trafford on the back of four successive victories yet they were short of ideas despite the presence of south American trio Robinho, Elano and Felipe Caicedo.
Yet it was another South American who continued to cause mayhem at the other end.
City were saved by the bar in the 31st minute, Tevez rattling the woodwork with a sublime curling effort, before United's No 32 scored in the dying moments of the first half with a powerful 20-yard shot which hit the inside of the post before crossing the line.
Robinho spurned a good chance to reduce the deficit in the 51st minute, the Brazilian firing high and wide after Elano had unlocked the United defence.
And substitute Martin Petrov also went close yet United's defence was rarely troubled after that as Ferguson's side moved closer to a third successive title.