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Red Devils secure 18th league title

MANCHESTER United captured its 18th English league title yesterday when it secured the point it needed in a nervy 0-0 draw at home to Arsenal.

It was a subdued display by United and the host endured an anxious final few minutes before the final whistle sealed a hat-trick of titles and moved it alongside Liverpool as England's most crowned club.

Arsenal, which will finish a distant fourth, enjoyed plenty of possession without creating many clear chances while United's feared attack only occasionally sparked into life.

With one round of matches to play on May 24, United has 87 points while Liverpool, which visits West Bromwich Albion today, has 80.

Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas almost stunned Old Trafford with seven minutes remaining when he struck a shot against the outside of the post but United survived to hand manager Alex Ferguson his 11th league title in 22 years at the helm.

The Scot can now rest players for next weekend's finale against Hull City in preparation for the Champions League final against Barcelona in Rome on May 27 when United can scoop up a fourth trophy of a sensational season.

United has already won the League Cup and FIFA's Club World Cup but was denied the chance of a remarkable five trophies when it lost to Everton in the FA Cup semifinals.

Yesterday, Arsenal's Robin van Persie wasted the best chance of the first half when he headed over unmarked and the Dutchman also tested Edwin van der Sar late on with a fierce shot.

United was restrained throughout, with Carlos Tevez forced to forage largely alone up front. The Argentine was substituted midway through the second half - a decision that drew boos before he received a standing ovation in what could be his last home game for the club.

Cristiano Ronaldo nearly spared United's nerves with a vicious free kick with 12 minutes left while the Portuguese set up Park Ji-sung for a goal that was ruled offside.

However, the final minutes produced the rare sight of a United side hanging on with 10 men behind the ball as Arsenal sensed a chance to spoil the party and Fabregas almost extended the title race until the final day of the season.

"It's an unbelievable feeling. Thankfully we got the job done today," striker Wayne Rooney said.

"The last few years have been unbelievable so hopefully we can continue that."

The final whistle set off a massive title celebration at Old Trafford as the team was presented with the Premier League trophy on the field, with the players hugging and spraying champagne on each other.

Ferguson now has 25 major trophies since he arrived at the club in 1986. "It makes you want to go on for ever," the 67-year-old said on the pitch.

As the medals were presented and fireworks exploded, the rain that had lashed onto the pitch throughout the match cleared and Old Trafford was bathed in sunshine.


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