Manchester United closes in on 19th title by beating Chelsea 2-1
After beating Chelsea 2-1, Man United only needs 1 point to win the EPL title
United outplayed Chelsea comprehensively, jumping out to a 2-0 first-half lead
Man United looks set to win its English-record 19th league title
LONDON (AP) -- Manchester United is on the verge of a record 19th English championship crown after beating title rival Chelsea 2-1 on Sunday.
Alex Ferguson's side is now six points clear of Chelsea with two games to go and will regain the Premier League trophy from the London club with at least a draw at Blackburn on Saturday.
"The players won't muck it up,'' Ferguson said. "They'll get the point.''
United can afford to lose its matches against Blackburn and Blackpool if Chelsea doesn't secure a maximum of six points from its remaining fixtures.
"It's a massive step forward, mathematically it's not done but we are nearly there and we need to finish the job off next week,'' United midfielder Ryan Giggs said.
Javier Hernandez put United ahead after 36 seconds and Nemanja Vidic headed in another 23 minutes later to ensure Frank Lampard's 68th-minute goal for Chelsea was just a consolation.
The victory ended Arsenal's title hopes after the third-place side lost 3-1 at Stoke earlier in the day, leaving Arsene Wenger's side without a trophy for the sixth successive season.
United, though, should now lift its fourth Premier League trophy in five years.
By becoming champions of England for the 19th time, United will overtake Liverpool on the leaderboard - ensuring Ferguson fulfills the target he set back when he took charge in 1986: to knock the Reds "off their perch.''
"It's fantastic to be the most successful team in the country in terms of championship trophies,'' Ferguson said. "It took time to get the foundations of the club right and after we got the first title we improved, improved and improved.''
Ferguson had to wait until 1992 to win the Premier League for the first time - and Giggs has played in each of his 11 title-winning teams so far.
"I guess 15-20 years ago you would never have thought it, it is a great achievement to haul back our greatest rivals (Liverpool) of the 1970s, 80s and 90s,'' the 37-year-old Giggs said.
The opener on Sunday was one of the quickest of Giggs' United career, which started in 1991. And he started the move by knocking the ball to Park Ji-sung, who sent it through to Hernandez.
After Chelsea defender David Luiz failed to intercept the pass, the Mexico striker slotted in the 19th goal of his first season at United.
Giggs played a bigger role in United's second, with the Welsh midfielder crossing into the penalty area and Vidic going past fellow Serbia defender Branislav Ivanovic before heading home.
Ivanovic did help to provide Chelsea's goal in the 68th, heading down Ramires' cross for Lampard to prod into the net.
"United played better and they deserved to win,'' Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said. "Now they are comfortable to win the title and they deserve it.''
Arsenal's loss at Stoke exposed the defensive frailties that have prolonged the team's title drought.
Kenwyne Jones put Stoke ahead in the 28th after easily evading Johan Djourou to meet Jermaine Pennant's corner.
Pennant netted himself in the 40th after cutting in from the left and being allowed to advance unchallenged before sending in a shot which deflected off Djourou.
Although Robin van Persie pulled one back for Arsenal in the 81st, Jon Walters produced an immediate response for Stoke after Djourou's poor clearance.
In the day's first match, Wolverhampton Wanderers climbed out of the relegation zone by beating West Bromwich Albion 3-1.
Steven Fletcher scored either side of a goal from Adlene Guedioura before Peter Odemwingie pulled one back for West Brom from the penalty spot in the 55th.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.