United, Chelsea handed losses
© AFP

Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney were both sent off as Manchester United slumped to a sensational 2-0 defeat at Fulham that has blown the title race wide open. A week after being thrashed 4-1 by Liverpool at Old Trafford, the champions succumbed to back-to-back league defeats for the first time in nearly four years after what was their first defeat at Craven Cottage since 1964. A Danny Murphy penalty and Zoltan Gera's late strike sealed the points for Fulham.

But United played as great a role in their own downfall, with Scholes ordered off after only 18 minutes for the goalline handball that allowed Murphy to open the scoring. Rooney, who only came on as a second-half substitute, was given his marching orders moments after Gera's 87th-minute strike, earning his second yellow card for petulantly protesting a decision.

Chelsea's 1-0 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur in a match delayed by a security scare ensured the damage from the loss was not as great as it might have been, but a Liverpool win over Aston Villa on 22 March could still reduce United's lead at the top to a single point, albeit with the added advantage of a game in hand. United's slip-up ensured that Chelsea's first defeat under temporary manager Guus Hiddink was particularly frustrating. Luka Modric made the difference, finishing off Aaron Lennon's clever cutback five minutes after half-time.

Elsewhere, Peter Crouch dealt a severe blow to Everton's prospects of mounting a late challenge for a top four finish with both goals, as Portsmouth came from behind to secure a precious 2-1 win at Fratton Park. Leighton Baines had curled in a free-kick to give Everton a fourth-minute lead but two Crouch headers sealed the points for Pompey, who had started the day with only goal difference keeping them above the relegation zone.

Stoke dragged themselves out of the bottom three with a 1-0 win over second-from-bottom Middlesbrough. Ryan Shawcross's 84th-minute strike, predictably set up by one of Rory Delap's long throws, made the difference and ensured Newcastle kicked off their evening clash with Arsenal in the relegation zone.

Stoke's win ensured Blackburn Rovers finished the day in a worse position than they started it, despite a battling display to earn a 1-1 draw with West Ham United at Ewood Park. An accomplished finish by Mark Noble gave West Ham the lead against the run of play, ten minutes before the interval, but Blackburn's efforts yielded a deserved equaliser six minutes after the restart, Keith Andrews firing home from eight yards.

West Bromwich Albion's chances of hauling themselves off the bottom look bleak after they could only draw 1-1 with Bolton Wanderers. Matt Taylor volleyed the visitors into the lead mid-way through the second half after West Brom failed to clear Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen's huge punt into the home side's box. An own goal by Danny Shittu ensured a point for the Baggies, but they remain adrift at the bottom with time rapidly running out.