GAME OVER

Manchester United effectively end Chelsea’s hopes of denying them record-breaking 19th league title

MANCHESTER UNITED manager Sir Alex Ferguson hailed his history-makers after victory over Chelsea in yesterday’s Premier League decider all but clinched a record 19th top-flight title.

First-half goals from striker Javier Hernandez and captain Nemanja Vidic ensured Frank Lampard’s effort for the visitors was not enough to deny United a win that put them six points clear with two games left.

Only the most spectacular late choke in title history could now deny Ferguson and his side the satisfaction of overtaking Liverpool’s haul of league trophies and an immortality he admits he could never have foreseen.

“It is fantastic to be the most successful team in the country in terms of championship victories,” said Ferguson. “The moment we won that first one [under him] in 1993, the door opened for us. I wouldn’t have believed anyone who told me we would get to this point. I would have been quite happy to stay four or five years at the time.”

Mathematically, United still need a point against either Blackburn or Blackpool to regain the title, but horse racing fan Ferguson insists there will be no repeat of the infamous 1956 Grand National, in which Devon Loch inexplicably collapsed on the home straight.

“Don’t mention Devon Loch. My dad backed that, “ joked Ferguson. “Knowing the players, they won’t muck it up. They will get the point. There is no doubt about that.”

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti confessed the Blues squandered any chance they had of retaining the trophy when Hernandez capitalised on a David Luiz blunder to slot the opener after just 36 seconds.

“In the first minute we lost the game, we started so badly,” Ancelotti said.

“It was very difficult after that to come back and try to win. We have to accept the defeat, today United were better and in general this season they were better than us. They deserve to win title, they will win.”

Vidic further dented hopes of a heroic comeback by Chelsea, led by John Terry (left) midway through the opening period and United had chances to score more in the second half, despite Lampard giving Ancelotti’s men a sliver of hope.

KEY MOMENTS | UNITED CLOSE IN
23 mins: Already ahead thanks to Javier Hernandez’s lightning-quick opener, United closed in on victory when Nemanja Vidic headed home a Ryan Giggs cross

68 mins: Frank Lampard briefly silenced a jubilant Old Trafford when he gave Chelsea hope of a comeback, poking past Edwin van der Sar from close range

FT: United held on to claim three points and effectively seal title No19, prompting record-breaking boss Sir Alex Ferguson to thank fans by bowing to the crowd