Manchester: Manchester United closed in on a record 19th English Premier League title after Javier Hernandez struck in the final minutes to earn a vital 1-0 win over Everton on Saturday.
Tim Howard looked to have earned Everton a hard-earned point after a string of fine saves against his former club at Old Trafford.
But Everton could not stop Mexican striker Hernandez heading home in the 83rd minute as United opened up a nine-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
United will now win the title if they win their next two matches against Arsenal and Chelsea.
Sir Alex Ferguson clearly had one eye on next week's Champions Leage game in Germany as Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic sat out the game ahead of the semi-final first leg at Schalke.
Everton's last win at Old Trafford was back in 1992, but the Merseyside club arrived at Old Trafford with an outside chance of finishing fifth in the table after winning five of their previous seven games.
And despite the abence of key players Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta from the starting line-up, the visitors settled quickly.
Leon Osman was allowed space on the edge of the area to test Edwin van der Sar in the eighth minute, but it was Van der Sar's opposite number who was responsible for Everton going in goalless at half time.
The United States international produced two fine saves to deny Hernandez in the space of six minutes.
Hernandez looked certain to increase his goal tally to 19 from an acute angle before the Everton stopper turned the ball behind in the 25th minute.
And Howard again frustrated the United forward by keeping out his first time shot after the move of the game involving Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney.
Everton's bright start was a distant memory as United continued to dominate yet the hosts struggled to find the all important breakthrough.
Hernandez went from being his side's most dangerous attacking threat to becoming Everton's 38th minute saviour.
After Valencia had got the better of left-back Leighton Baines, the United winger teed up Nani, whose low drive was heading for the corner of the net before it was deflected wide by Hernandez.
Everton manager David Moyes responded to his team's first half showing by making a double change at the start of the second-half.
Cahill, who has been struggling with injury, was introduced along with striker Victor Anichebe in place of the ineffective Jermaine Beckford and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.
And the substitutions seemed to have an immediate impact. Anichebe went sprawling after a nudge by Ferdinand inside the United penalty area but referee Peter Walton waved away Everton's shouts for a penalty.
And Jack Rodwell showed why Manchester United are monitoring his progress as the young midfielder forced a great 69th minute save from Van der Sar with a low 20-yard drive which took a slight deflection.
But after Sylvain Distin almost put through his own net, United took a huge stride towards claiming another Premier League crown double when Hernandez pounced from close range after connecting with Valencia's cross.