Manchester United beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 at Old Trafford on Tuesday to draw level on points with English Premier League leaders Chelsea.
However, the Blues - who remain top on goal difference - will re-establish a points gap between themselves and reigning champions United if they avoid defeat at home to bottom of the table Portsmouth on Wednesday.
England striker Wayne Rooney put United, beaten at home by Aston Villa last weekend, ahead from the penalty spot in the 30th minute after Ronald Zumar handled Darron Gibson's corner. Central defender Nemanja Vidic doubled the lead just before half-time when he headed in a corner that Wolves goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann could only palm into the net. Antonio Valencia's 66th minute half-volley made it 3-0 as Wolves dropped down into the relegation zone.
Victory gave Sir Alex Ferguson a win in his 900th league match as United manager, but Wolves boss Mick McCarthy, in what appeared to be an attempt to keep his best players fit for the more 'winnable' game against Burnley on Saturday, made ten changes to his team. "Wolves made life tough for us," Ferguson told Sky Sports. "They had their second string out which wasn't surprising given they've got Burnley on Sunday. We took a long time to get our game going but once we got (the first) goal we were comfortable enough."
Villa up to third
In Tuesday's other Premier League matches, Villa leapfrogged Arsenal, who play Burnley on Wednesday, into third place with a 2-0 victory away to Sunderland, who had captain Lorik Cana sent-off for two yellow cards. Cameron Jerome scored twice as Birmingham City beat Blackburn Rovers 2-1 for a club record fifth straight Premier League win to move up into sixth place. Meanwhile Bolton beat relegation rivals West Ham 3-1 as they climbed out of the bottom three.
Villa's England striker Emile Heskey made it three goals in six games when, in the 24th minute, he struck from ten yards after James Milner played him in following a lay-off from Stiliyan Petrov. And just after the hour mark, Milner made it 2-0 with a 25-yards shot.
"I'm delighted," said Villa manager Martin O'Neill. "On the back of a great performance on Saturday, this was very important for us."
Birmingham stroll on
Jerome gave Birmingham a 12th minute lead at St Andrews from just a yard out after Christian Benitez headed Sebastian Larsson's cross goalwards. And three minutes after the break, Jerome doubled City's lead after neat approach play by Larsson and Stephen Carr. New Zealand's Ryan Nelsen pulled a goal back for Rovers from close range in the 69th minute.
"I'm really proud of the players, it's fantastic," said Birmingham manager Alex McLeish. "It was a phenomenal performance and we could have won by more."
At the Reebok, Korea Republic's Lee Chung-Yong put Bolton in front with a well-struck 64th minute shot. But minutes later the Hammers were level when Alessandro Diamanti finished from inside the box. Then a handling error by West Ham and England goalkeeper Robert Green let in Bolton's Ivan Klasnic for a bizarre goal in the 77th minute, before a header from Gary Cahill two minutes from time set the seal on the hosts' victory.
Wednesday's other Premier League matches see Tottenham and Manchester City, both bidding to break into the top four, in action at White Hart Lane while Liverpool, struggling to hold on to their place among the leading quartet, are at home to Wigan.