Manchester United closed in on their 20th English football title with a 2-0 win at struggling Stoke City which means they need only seven points from their remaining six matches to reclaim the Premier League crown.
Michael Carrick toe-poked United ahead with a scrappy goal after four minutes and Robin van Persie ended his 10-match scoring drought with a 66th-minute penalty to seal the points in a game United dominated from start to finish.
They now have 80 points from 32 games, 15 clear of current champions Manchester City, who have 65 with seven matches to play.
At the other end, Sunderland won their first match under new manager Paolo Di Canio, beating Newcastle United 3-0 in a Tyne-Wear derby to boost their survival chances.
It was their biggest win over their arch-rivals at St James' Park since 1966 and their first there since 2000.
The win, their first for 10 league matches, together with Stoke's defeat, lifted Sunderland into 15th place with 34 points.
Stoke, who have now taken just one point from a possible 21, slipped back to 16th with 34 points, level with Sunderland and Aston Villa and just three clear of Wigan Athletic in 18th.