Wayne Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy rekindled Manchester United's championship hopes in a 3-1 victory at Newcastle on Sunday.
Rooney scored twice and Van Nistelrooy -- back from suspension -- scored from a dubiously awarded penalty as the Reds moved up to seventh, although they are still 11 points behind leader Chelsea.
Rooney fired the Reds ahead after seven minutes at St. James' Park only for Alan Shearer to level in the 71st. Van Nistelrooy scored from the spot three minutes later after referee Mike Dean had harshly ruled that Magpies goalkeeper Shay Given had brought down Paul Scholes.
Rooney added the third in the third minutes of injury time to ensure a victory Alex Ferguson's badly needed to stand any chance of getting back into title contention.
"With Chelsea and Arsenal winning, we had to win to keep ourselves in the race," Rooney said. "I think all the players knew that before we went out and we just had to go out and give a big performance.
"Obviously it's going to be a difficult job to catch them. But you shouldn't write us off. We think we can do it. We all believe in ourselves especially after the win today."
United went ahead when Rooney arrived unmarked in the Newcastle area and scored with a first time shot from Darren Fletcher's right wing cross.
The Reds were forced to send on Wes Brown for the injured Mikael Silvestre and the defender handed Newcastle its equalizer. He lost possession to Shearer out on the right wing and the former England captain dribbled across the field past two more United defenders before shooting past Carroll from 16m.
But the Magpies were only level for three minutes.
Goalkeeper Shay Given left his line to try and reach Rooney's lob and was unable to catch the ball. He was judged to have brought down Scholes as the fought for the loose ball and Van Nistelrooy, who had served a three game suspension for foul play against Arsenal, stroked home the spot kick.
"I think Paul Scholes was brought down OK," said Ferguson who has argued that his team was denied a penalty in last weekend's 0-0 tie with Manchester City. "I think it's our turn to get the breaks now."
Newcastle didn't agree and felt that Rooney had fouled Andy O'Brien in the buildup to the move.
"We're all bitterly disappointed and angry in there that he has given a penalty," Shearer said after Newcastle's third home loss in a week. "I'm 50 yards up the pitch and I can see a push on Andy O'Brien and the ref is 10 or 15 yards away and he can't see it."
United's third came in the third minute of injury time when Van Nistelrooy's shot was cleared off the line by Titus Bramble and Rooney fired home the rebound for his second of the game.
Middlesbrough spoiled Bryan Robson's return to West Bromwich Albion by scoring a 2-1 victory over their former manager to climb three places to fourth.
An own goal by West Brom defender Darren Purse and a second half header by Boudewijn Zenden were enough to beat West Brom, who replied through Rob Earnshaw's equalizer.
It was their first match under Robson, who played for the Baggies for several seasons before becoming a star with Manchester United. The former England captain went on to manage Middlesbrough but took over at West Brom from the fired Gary Megson on Tuesday.
Croatian striker Dado Prso scored one penalty but missed another as Rangers edged Hibernian 1-0 on Sunday to cut Celtic's standings to four points a week before their first meeting in the league title race.