Chelsea gave Luiz Felipe Scolari the perfect birthday present as the Blues returned to the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win against Blackburn on Sunday. Less than 24 hours after being knocked out of first place by Liverpool, Scolari's side were back in pole position thanks to Nicolas Anelka's double-strike at rain-lashed Ewood Park.
Chelsea, who lead Liverpool on goal difference, went ahead when Jose Bosingwa's long-range strike hit Anelka on the leg and trickled into the net past wrong-footed Rovers keeper Paul Robinson. Anelka added a second in the 68th minute when he flicked his shot over Robinson from Frank Lampard's pass.
That was enough to ensure Scolari's 60th birthday celebrations went with a swing as Chelsea equalled a Premier League and club record of nine successive away wins.
Tottenham climbed out of the relegation zone after Darren Bent's two-goal blast earned a 2-1 win against nine-man Manchester City. The north London club's remarkable resurgence under new manager Harry Redknapp contined at Eastlands even though they fell behind to Robinho's close-range finish after 16 minutes.
The momentum swung Tottenham's way when City were reduced to 10 men in the 26th minute. Gelson Fernandes, who had already been booked, was the player dismissed after a lunge on David Bentley.
Redknapp's side took full advantage as Bent pounced on Richard Dunne's mistake to level three minutes later. Bent won it in the 64th minute when he buried a pass from Jermaine Jenas to take his goal tally to five in his last six games. City's dismal day was complete when Dunne was dismissed in the 83rd minute for professional foul.
Tottenham left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto was also sent off in stoppage time but even that couldn't prevent Mark Hughes' side slumping to their third successive defeat.
Tuncay Sanli hit a late winner as Middlesbrough shocked Aston Villa 2-1 at Villa Park. Turkey forward Tuncay put Gareth Southgate's team into the lead when he slammed in Stewart Downing's cross after 34 minutes. The visitors' advantage was short-lived as Steve Sidwell equalised three minutes later with a header from James Milner's cross.
Tuncay had the last word in the 88th minute when he seized on Sidwell's woeful back-pass and stroked his shot past Brad Friedel to hand fifth-placed Villa a second successive defeat.
Fulham midfielder Danny Murphy dumped Newcastle back into the bottom three as his 100th career goal clinched a 2-1 win at Craven Cottage. Andrew Johnson put Fulham in front after 23 minutes with a cool finish after Newcastle defender Claudio Cacapa headed a clearance against team-mate Fabricio Coloccini.
Ameobi put Newcastle back on level terms in the 57th minute when he met Damien Duff's deflected cross with a close-range strike. But Coloccini's clumsy tackle on Johnson gifted Fulham a penalty in the 66th minute. Murphy stepped up to restore the Cottagers' lead and lift them out of the relegation zone at Newcastle's expense.