United surges toward 20th title as City implodes

Manchester United surged closer to a 20th English league title on Sunday, opening up an eight-point lead by beating Queens Park Rangers 2-0 while floundering neighbor Manchester City lost 1-0 at Arsenal.

Having spent most of the season in City's shadow in the Premier League, United has eclipsed its big-spending rival to take control of the Premier League title race.

"We know what it takes to get over the finishing line first," United defender Rio Ferdinand said. "We've got to use all that experience to make sure we do it again."

United has six games remaining to extend its title record after rattling off an eighth successive league win.

Wayne Rooney scored the opener from the penalty spot after QPR captain Shaun Derry was sent off in the 15th minute for pushing over Ashley Young, although there was minimal contact and the United winger appeared to be offside.

There was no disputing Paul Scholes' 68th-minute goal, with a trademark drive blasted in the net.

"You have to get momentum at this stage of the season," Ferdinand said. "That's the most important thing, making sure you get a good run together and win all your remaining games. We've ticked one off today and hopefully we can keep on going."

The Red Devils have been calmness personified, even when City made top spot its own until its grip was loosened a month ago. There appears to be no way back now for Roberto Mancini's side, which has imploded amid internal strife.

The frustrated manager even criticized one of his own players, with petulant striker Mario Balotelli earning a stinging rebuke for his second dismissal of the season.

A dangerous-looking, knee-high tackle on Alex Song had gone unpunished after 10 minutes, but Balotelli was sent off in the 90th minute when he was booked again for a second lunge on Bacary Sagna.

Mancini says he wants the FA to investigate the foul on Song, which could lead to a lengthy ban. After a stamp on Tottenham's Scott Parker was missed by a referee in January, a four-match suspension was imposed on Balotelli by the Football Association.

"We have six games and he will not play in the next six games," Mancini said.

Asked if the Italy striker could be sold at the end of the season, his compatriot said: "Probably — but I don't know."

"Every time, we risk one sent off, like today," Mancini added. "But he can score also in the last minute."

But only Arsenal looked as if it would score at Emirates Stadium. It came with three minutes remaining when Mikel Arteta blasted the ball from outside the penalty area inside goalkeeper Joe Hart's left post.

While City has won 15 of 16 home league matches and drawn the other, it has now lost five times on the road this season.

"It's clear now that it's very difficult," Mancini said of the title race. "In the end, if we don't win it's probably because they (United) did better than us."

Arsenal, meanwhile, is closer to securing its place in the Champions League having being closer to the relegation zone earlier in the season.

Arsene Wenger's side has a two-point cushion in third over Tottenham.

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ALKMAAR, Netherlands (AP) — PSV Eindhoven beat Heracles Almelo 3-0 to lift the Dutch Cup on Sunday, just weeks after former captain Philip Cocu took over as manager of the club.

Cocu, a former Dutch international, replaced Fred Rutten at PSV last month.

Zakaria Labyad played in Ola Toivonen for the opening goal in the 30th minute, Dries Mertens steered home a cross from Erik Pieters and Jeremain Lens sealed victory in the 62nd after capitalizing on a defensive error.

Sunday's success could be the start of a Dutch league and cup double. PSV is fourth in the league standings, four points behind leader Ajax with six rounds to play.

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BERLIN (AP) — Raul Gonzalez scored twice in a sparking display as Schalke defeated Hannover 3-0 to consolidate its hold on third place in the Bundesliga on Sunday, when Bayer Leverkusen drew 1-1 at Hamburger SV.

Raul headed Jefferson Farfan's cross in off the left post in the sixth minute, giving Schalke a lift after Thursday's Europa League elimination by Athletic Bilbao.

The 34-year-old former Real Madrid star scored a delectable second in the 47th, accepting Farfan's return pass on his chest, holding off a defender and then beating goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler by playing the ball with his left foot and stroking it inside the post with his right.

Farfan unselfishly crossed to give Klaas-Jan Huntelaar an easy finish for his 24th goal of the season in the 63rd.

Schalke is six points behind Bayern Munich and five ahead of Borussia Moenchengladbach with five games to play. Hannover dropped three places to eighth.

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PARIS (AP) — Winger Anthony Mounier scored his eighth goal of the season as Nice beat visiting Lorient 2-0 on Sunday to ease its relegation worries.

Mounier scored just after halftime and central defender Renato Civelli got the second in the 57th minute as Nice moved up to 13th place.

Lorient's chances of making a comeback where all but over after midfielder Alaixys Romoa was sent off in the 78th.

Caen also secured an important win its relegation battle, beating Bordeaux 1-0 at home thanks to veteran midfielder Nicolas Seube's early goal to move out of the relegation zone. Lorient slipped below Nice and Caen and into the bottom three.

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Levante struck twice early to beat Atletico Madrid 2-0 and move into fourth place in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Athletic Bilbao ended a five-game winless run in the league by edging out Sevilla 1-0 through Fernando Llorente's second-half header.

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Newly crowned Greek champion Olympiakos lost 1-0 at home to Kerkyra after a late goal by Ilias Ioannou on Sunday.

With two rounds left, Olympiakos has already clinched a 39th league title as it holds an unassailable seven-point lead over second-place Panathinaikos, which beat visiting Panionios 3-0.

Third-place Atromitos, which drew 0-0 with fourth-place PAOK is 18 points behind Olympiakos.