Manchester United opened-up a six-point advantage over rivals Chelsea at the Premiership summit with a comfortable win against Sheffield United.
Michael Carrick celebrates after Man Utd's opening goal
Michael Carrick put the home side on course for victory after four minutes, lifting Cristiano Ronaldo's pass over Paddy Kenny as the keeper raced out.
Wayne Rooney doubled the lead with an emphatic finish after 50 minutes.
Michael Tonge came closest for the Blades, hitting the bar with a curling 20-yard drive two minutes from time.
Manchester United were without groin injury victim Rio Ferdinand and goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who suffered a heavy blow to the nose in the FA Cup semi-final win against Watford.
It made little difference to their early rhythm as they took the lead.
Ronaldo, inevitably, was the prime mover in the build-up to the goal, slipping in a perfect pass for Carrick to beat Kenny as he ran out.
Rooney could have doubled thje lead two minutes later but Kenny bravely blocked the effort from point-blank range.
The Premiership leaders' defensive resources, already stretched to breaking point by injuries, suffered another casualty after 19 minutes when Patrice Evra limped off following a wild challenge by Colin Kazim-Richards.
Rooney was involved in some unnecessary incidents and he picked up a yellow card for a reckless tackle on Phil Jagielka.
But he showed the other side of his character with a goal of quite stunning quality five minutes after the break.
He controlled a pass of rare vision from Ryan Giggs in an instant before lashing an unstoppable right-foot finish across Kenny.
Sheffield United's main threat came from the lively Luton Shelton but he wasted a glorious chance to quickly peg back United, shooting over from only 10 yards.
They then attempted to press home their advantage, with Kenny saving well in quick succession from Ronaldo and Giggs.
But they then had an escape with the sort of generous decision that would have reduced Sir Alex Ferguson to a seething rage had it happened at the other end.
Shelton showed lightning pace to escape the home regard again before being clearly fouled by Gabriel Heinze - only for referee Rob Styles to wave play on when a spot-kick looked a formality.
Tonge then curled a shot against the bar as Sheffield United continued to battle in the face of United's overwhelming superiority.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson:
"It was a professional job and in the second half we just ran down the clock a bit.
"We saved our legs well and I think that was a sensible thing to do. The performance was economical and we didn't kill ourselves, which was important.
"It is good to have our six-point lead back, with five games to go. The players have got the right temperament to cope with it as well. They just kept playing their football and it was quite good at times."
Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock:
"I thought we gave a good account of ourselves but we have been beaten by a better side.
"It was as clear as daylight that we should have had a penalty when Gabriel Heinze fouled Luton Shelton.
"If you are a football person you don't need anyone else to tell you that was a penalty. This was a major decision and between referee Rob Styles and his linesman, they have got to get that right.
"If he gives it he upsets Sir Alex Ferguson and I know people don't like to upset Sir Alex but he should have given that."
Man Utd: Kuszczak, Fletcher, Brown, Heinze, Evra (Richardson 21), Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes, Rooney, Giggs (Solskjaer 80), Smith.
Subs Not Used: Van der Sar, O'Shea, Cathcart.
Booked: Smith, Rooney, Ronaldo.
Goals: Carrick 4, Rooney 50.
Sheff Utd: Kenny, Geary, Morgan, Kozluk (Armstrong 77), Kilgallon, Jagielka, Webber, Montgomery, Tonge, Kazim-Richards (Gillespie 75), Shelton (Nade 89).
Subs Not Used: Alan Quinn, Fathi.
Booked: Geary, Morgan, Armstrong.
Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).