(CNN) -- Manchester United scored a potentially decisive victory in the Premier League title race as goals from Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov gave the reigning champions a 3-0 win over Chelsea.
Rooney (left) and Berbatov celebrate as United scored a superb victory at Old Trafford.
The morale-boosting victory sees United move to within a point of second-placed Chelsea but with two games in hand and five behind leaders Liverpool.
Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari said before Sunday's crunch encounter at Old Trafford that his faltering team needed a win to boost their own title pretensions, but were left to contemplate a thumping defeat.
United suffered a pre-match blow when central defender Rio Ferdinand was ruled out as his back injury flared up again, but Chelsea, who played Didier Drogba as a sole striker in the first half before drafting in Nicolas Anelka after the break, rarely threatened.
A frenzy of attacking activity culminated in the United opener just before half time.
Berbatov shot weakly after being set up by Rooney and Chelsea captain John Terry had to throw himself into the path of Park ji-Sung's angled drive before Cristiano Ronaldo drove his snap shot from a good position straight at Rooney.
But the pressure eventually told with United believing they had gone ahead after a cleverly-worked corner saw Ryan Giggs swing it over for Ronaldo to head home.
Referee Howard Webb ruled it out to the disgust of Rooney, but the retaken corner by man-of-the-match Giggs was flicked on by Berbatov for Vidic to score at the far post.
Anelka's introduction after the break to link up with Drogba proved largely ineffective with United continuing to look the more dangerous side.
It came as no surprise when Ronaldo set up Patrice Evra for a left wing cross which was again helped on by Berbatov for Rooney to stab home from close range.
The 63rd-minute goal had all but sealed victory which was confirmed as Ronaldo sent in a free kick which Berbatov met at the near post for the third.
"Getting the goal just before half time certainly made all the difference," United manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports after the win.
Scolari was bitterly disappointed by his team's display which he said inflicted "big damage" on their championship challenge.
He also rued their slack defending for Vidic's opener. "We conceded a goal which changed everything," added the Brazilian.
In Sunday's other Premier League game, Maynor Figueroa scored with an injury time header as Wigan beat Tottenham 1-0.
Wigan stay seventh with Spurs remaining in the relegation zone after another late defeat.