London: Paul Scholes headed home a Ryan Giggs cross in the 69th minute to send Manchester United on their way to a 2-0 win on Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur — a victory that lifts them five points clear of Arsenal.
Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy added the second in injury time from a finely judged chipped cross from the left by South African substitute Quinton Fortune.
United have 77 points with two games left and Arsenal 72 with a match in hand in a two-horse race for the Premier League crown held by the Gunners, who lost a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw at Bolton Wanderers.
For United’s opener, Scholes, in the middle, nodded a high ball from the defence on out to the left wing and then raced into the box to head Giggs’ centre past wrong-footed goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
Midfielder Gustavo Poyet nearly snatched a late equaliser for Spurs when he headed a free kick just wide of the far post.
In an earlier match, striker Frederic Kanoute gave West Ham United a huge boost in their desperate battle to avoid relegation with a late scrambled goal in a 1-0 win at Manchester City.
Frenchman Kanoute, who vowed to leave West Ham earlier this month because of a lack of first-team football, converted from right on the goalline 10 minutes from time to hand caretaker manager Trevor Brooking a win in his first match in charge.
With just two games remaining, West Ham are two points adrift of safety in the third remaining relegation place. They have 38 points from 36 matches, with Bolton Wanderers one place above on 40 points and Leeds United in 16th on 41.
Brooking, the former England international who has been handed the managerial reins while Glenn Roeder recuperates from a minor stroke, said the win had given West Ham renewed hope of staying up.
“We’ve given ourselves a bit of hope,” Brooking told Sky TV.
“It was a terrific win at the end of a difficult week. The clubs above us will now have to look over their shoulders.”