Chelsea returned to the top of the English Premier League with a 3-0 win at home to Stoke on Saturday in a timely boost ahead of their make-or-break UEFA Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain.
Jose Mourinho's side bounced back from their 3-1 midweek quarter-final first leg loss in Paris to move a point ahead of Liverpool, who will regain top spot if they avoid defeat away to West Ham on Sunday. Manchester City maintained their title challenge with a 4-1 win at home to Southampton that left them two points off the summit and still with two games in hand over both Chelsea and Liverpool at the end of this weekend. Everton and Arsenal, fifth and fourth respectively, clash at Goodison Park on Sunday.
Egypt winger Mohamed Salah marked his first Premier League start by giving Chelsea, who welcome PSG on Tuesday, a 32nd-minute lead at Stamford Bridge when he turned in Nemanja Matic's cut-back. Salah then won a penalty after Andy Wilkinson's poor challenge and although Frank Lampard's 61st minute spot-kick was saved by Asmir Begovic, the veteran England midfielder followed up to make it 2-0. Willian added a third goal with a curling shot in the 72nd minute.
At Eastlands, Manchester City's Yaya Toure and Saints' Rickie Lambert both struck from the penalty spot before Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko scored in first-half stoppage-time to make it 3-1 to Manuel Pellegrini's men. City substitute Stevan Jovetic added a fourth goal in the 81st minute.
Defeat was made worse for the Saints when Jay Rodriguez, one of their England strikers, was carried off on a stretcher after suffering a first-half knee injury that put a huge question mark against his chances of being selected in Roy Hodgson's squad for this June's FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil.
Mata brace moves Manchester United above Spurs
Juan Mata scored twice as Manchester United moved above Tottenham, who face Sunderland on Monday, and into sixth place with a 4-0 win away to Newcastle. Following their impressive 1-1 Champions League draw at home to title-holders Bayern Munich, David Moyes's side took the lead at St. James' Park courtesy of Mata's curling 39th minute free-kick. The Spain midfielder doubled United's advantage five minutes after half-time.
Javier Hernandez then made it 3-0 in the 65th minute after being played in by Japan's Shinji Kagawa and substitute Adnan Januzaj completed the scoring in stoppage time.
Fulham moved off the bottom of the table with a 2-1 win away to Aston Villa. The Cottagers remained in the relegation zone but are now just five points shy of safety with five games left. Fulham took the lead courtesy of Kieran Richardson's 22-yard shot in the 61st minute at Villa Park.
But Villa equalised nine minutes later through striker Grant Holt's header. However, the visitors made it 2-1 four minutes from time thanks to Hugo Rodallega's glancing header.
"With this victory, we are very confident to go on for the rest of the season," Felix Magath, the German manager of Fulham, said.
Jason Puncheon scored two goals as Crystal Palace moved seven points clear of relegation with a 3-0 win over Cardiff that left the Welsh club in the bottom three. The winger broke the deadlock in the 31st minute before Joe Ledley doubled the lead against his old club in the 71st minute. Puncheon scored his second and the London club's third with a brilliant 25-yard curler two minutes from time.
West Bromwich Albion went five points clear of the drop zone with a 1-0 victory away to Norwich thanks to Morgan Amalfitano's 16th minute goal, while Hull beat Swansea by the same scoreline thanks to George Boyd's first-half goal at the KC Stadium.