LONDON (AFP) - Manchester United took a step closer to the English Premier League title with a 2-0 win at Stoke on Sunday that saw them re-establish a 15-point lead over champions Manchester City at the top of the table.
Michael Carrick gave United an early lead and Robin van Persie completed victory by claiming his first club goal in 11 games from the penalty spot mid-way through the second half.
Victory allowed United to return to winning ways after Monday's loss in the Manchester derby, although City, who tackled Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals later on Sunday, have a game in hand.
United, who have 80 points, need seven points from their last six games to secure their 20th domestic top-flight title.
Stoke, meanwhile, find themselves in real danger of slipping into the relegation zone, having won just once in 13 league games in 2013.
Tony Pulis' side, who have 34 points, currently sit three points above the relegation zone, but they have played two games more than third-bottom Wigan Athletic, who on Saturday reached the FA Cup final.
United, who played with Wayne Rooney in midfield, broke the deadlock in the fourth minute at a windswept Britannia Stadium.
Phil Jones met a right-wing corner from van Persie and with the ball bobbling around the area, Carrick stuck out his foot to toe it into the bottom-left corner.
In response, Robert Huth headed over for Stoke, while Rooney whipped a long-range free-kick narrowly wide shortly before half-time.
Van Persie ended his two-month wait for a United goal in the 66th minute, steering a penalty past Asmir Begovic after he had been felled inside the area by Andy Wilkinson.
The Dutchman celebrated by embracing manager Alex Ferguson, but only a brilliant David de Gea save to keep out a Charlie Adam free kick spared United from an edgy finale.