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Saturday, 27 April, 2002, 18:32 GMT 19:32 UK
Man Utd beat Ipswich
Ruud van Nistelrooy scored his 23rd Premiership goal from the penalty spot
Van Nistelrooy scores from the penalty spot for United
Ipswich Town 0-1 Manchester United

Ruud van Nistelrooy's first-half penalty ensured United kept the Premiership title race alive - but further weakened Ipswich's tenuous grip on their top-flight status.

United - with the distraction of their Champions League semi-final second-leg on Tuesday - fielded an under-strength side.

But it still contained enough class to earn victory against a desperate team, although their only goal came from a controversial penalty after Van Nistelrooy was adjudged to have been pushed by Titus Bramble.

Anything other than victory for United would have meant that Arsenal could secure their first Premiership title since 1998 at Bolton on Monday.

  Key moment
45 mins: Van Nistelrooy scores for United from the penalty spot
But the defeat for Ipswich means they failed to capitalise on Sunderland's draw with Charlton.

George Burley's team are three points adrift of the Black Cats - but with superior goal difference.

The Tractor Boys must definitely win at Liverpool on the final day of the season and hope that Sunderland lose at home to Derby if they are to avoid the drop.

United created the first chance of the match after five minutes.


We had to ride our luck at times and we had to battle
Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
Van Nistelrooy met Denis Irwin's first-time cross but missed the target.

Ipswich, though, quickly bounced back.

First Roy Carroll saved from Martijn Reuser's header and then Wes Brown made a timely tackle with Marcus Bent poised to smash the ball home from short range.

Van Nistelrooy should have opened the scoring after 19 minutes.

But the usually prolific Dutch striker shot over from four yards after Roy Keane and Wes Brown had superbly crafted the opening.

Likewise, Bent should have scored for Ipswich after meeting Tommy Miller's superb cross at the near post.

But, as with Van Nistelrooy, Bent failed to hit the target.

Diego Forlan - still searching for his first United goal - shot wide from long range after 31 minutes and hit the side netting after a neat cut-back from Luke Chadwick seven minutes later.


It was a joke decision and it cost us the game
Ipswich boss George Burley on United's penalty
United took the lead in first-half injury time after referee Rob Styles awarded United a dubious penalty.

Van Nistelrooy - sandwiched between Bramble and John McGreal - tumbled to earth while trying to latch on to a Keane cross.

The prolific forward made no mistake from the spot, slotting the ball in the same corner - to the goalkeeper's right - as he did against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

Roy Keane was back in the Manchester United starting line-up following a hamstring injury
Keane holds off Miller
United began the second half in confident mood, retaining possession with ease.

But an increasingly desperate Ipswich did create opportunities as the match wore on.

Irwin made a last-ditch headed clearance with Sixto Peralta poised to head home Bent's cross, while Matt Holland headed over Reuser's cross.

But United continued to create chances.

Both Forlan and Irwin were denied by Marshall after some excellent approach play and Keane his the underside of the crossbar with a thundering drive.

Peralta almost scored a priceless equaliser with 10 minutes left but his diagonal shot drifted inches wide.

Ipswich punted hopeful long balls into the United penalty area as the match moved into injury time but Sir Alex Ferguson's team held on.


Ipswich: Marshall, Bramble, McGreal, Hreidarsson, Clapham, George (Wilnis 52), Tommy Miller, Holland, Peralta, Reuser (Darren Bent 70), Marcus Bent (Armstrong 84). Subs Not Used: Salmon, Stewart.

Booked: Bramble, Hreidarsson, McGreal.

Man Utd: Carroll, Phil Neville, Brown, O'Shea, Irwin, Forlan, Butt, Keane, Chadwick (Silvestre 78), Stewart (Scholes 45), van Nistelrooy (Solskjaer 60). Subs Not Used: Van Der Gouw, Djordjic.

Attendance: 28,433

Referee: R Styles (Waterlooville).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Ian Brown
"An unscathed 90 minutes for Roy Keane"
Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
"It was a very tough match"
Ipswich boss George Burley
"We worked our socks off"

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