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Man United beats Swansea 2-0 to stay in title race
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By MARK WALSH
MANCHESTER, England (AP) First-half goals from Paul Scholes and Ashley Young secured a 2-0 win for Manchester United against Swansea on Sunday, keeping the defending champion's faint hopes alive of a 20th Premier League title.
Scholes opened the scoring by deflecting Michael Carrick's shot into the net from close range in the 28th minute, while Young curled a precise second for United in the 41st.
The win pulled United level on points with crosstown rival Manchester City but with a significantly inferior goal difference.
City won 2-0 at Newcastle earlier Sunday and will almost certainly secure its first league title for 44 years with a home win next week against relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers which is managed by former United player and ex-City manager Mark Hughes.
"We did what we had to do, we won the game," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "It gives us hope. QPR need a point ... you never know. I just wish Mark Hughes was playing."
United's final match is at mid-table Sunderland.
In his match-day program notes, Ferguson said the 1-0 derby defeat to City on Monday was a "grievous blow," one from which United will struggle to recover from.
Still, as is customary at United's final home match of the season, Ferguson went onto the field to thank the fans for their support after the final whistle and sounded a defiant note when speaking into a microphone.
"Hopefully next week will be the biggest celebration of our lives," he said.
Swansea again showcased the attractive passing style that has won the team plaudits during its first season back in the top flight and ensured a mid-table finish free of relegation worries.
"It was a wonderful game for our learning and there's no doubt we will come back here a better team next season," Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers said.
After a cautious approach against City, Ferguson returned to a more attacking lineup with forwards Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Javier Hernandez all recalled.
Nonetheless, the defending champion made a lethargic start to the match and struggled to pierce the deep-lying Swansea defense until Scholes' opener.
Valencia inspired the breakthrough, skipping past defender Neil Taylor and cutting the ball back to Carrick, whose first-time shot was backheeled by Scholes to leave Michel Vorm wrong-footed in the Swansea goal.
The goal sparked United into life and the advantage was doubled before halftime when Scholes fed Wayne Rooney for a left-foot shot that was blocked, only for Young to place a low curling shot into the bottom corner from the rebound.
Needing a hefty win to close the gap in goal difference to City, United tried to exert further pressure in the second half, but Swansea refused to fold.
"We had a lot of chances. All the fans wanted us to score a lot of goals but that was a bit optimistic," Ferguson said.
Hernandez headed just over from Valencia's cross in the 58th, while Valencia's shot was blocked a few minutes later.
Between those chances, Swansea almost scored when Joe Allen's shot was deflected toward goal by Danny Graham and saved at the second attempt by United goalkeeper David De Gea before Scott Sinclair could pounce.
Nathan Dyer wasted another chance for Swansea with a wild shot after working space in the box in the 63rd, while Rooney clipped an effort wide from Carrick's pass following a flowing United move in the 74th.
Second-half substitute Tom Cleverley had a late chance to cut the goal difference deficit, but he was stretching and Vorm smothered the effort.
Updated May 6, 2012