Dimitar Berbatov returned to form in the most emphatic fashion as Manchester United steamrollered Blackburn to rise to the top of the Premier League table on a day when a record 36 goals were scored up and down the country.
The Bulgarian scored five times, his first goals in any competition since his treble in the win over Liverpool in September, as Sir Alex Ferguson's men ran out 7-1 winners. Berbatov had scored four in a game for Tottenham but this was his maiden five-goal haul as United ran riot.
Three of the goals had come by the break, with Berbatov scoring twice and Park Ji-sung exchanging passes with Wayne Rooney for the other. Nani chipped in with his side's other goal as Berbatov wrapped up his hat-trick and then some after the break, with Chris Samba heading Blackburn's consolation.
Earlier in the day, Arsenal had briefly sat at the summit thanks to a thrilling 4-2 win at Aston Villa.
Andrey Arshavin gave them the lead and a stunning volley from Samir Nasri doubled their advantage, before Ciaran Clark got Villa back into it. Marouane Chamakh's goal put Arsenal two goals in the clear for a second time, then Clark scored again before Jack Wilshere sealed it for Arsenal in injury time.
Hammers answer SOS call
At the foot of the table, West Ham eased some of the pressure on manager Avram Grant with a morale-boosting 3-1 win over Wigan. The game hand been branded a 'SOS' - save our season - game, and it certainly looked like it could be an early relegation 'six-pointer'.
Valon Behrami put the Hammers ahead in the first half when he nipped in to take advantage of some hesitation in the Wigan defence, with only a stunning save from Ali Al Habsi denying Frederic Piquionne to keep the hosts' half-time lead to one. Victor Obinna then made it two, with Scott Parker adding a third after Mauro Boselli had missed a penalty for Wigan, who grabbed a consolation through Tom Cleverley.
It was not enough to lift them off the foot of the table, though, as Wolves left it late to beat Sunderland 3-2. Kevin Foley put Wolves ahead in the second half as he followed in a Craig Gordon parry, before Darren Bent and Danny Welbeck swung the contest in Sunderland's favour.
But Stephen Hunt scored from close range and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake netted with a minute of normal time remaining to give manager Mick McCarthy a win over his former side.
West Brom enjoyed a return to form at Goodison Park, as they beat off-colour Everton 4-1. Paul Scharner's header gave the Baggies the lead, with Chris Brunt making it 2-0 with a 25-yard free-kick that posed questions over Tim Howard's positioning.
A trademark Tim Cahill header gave Everton brief hope before the break, but Mikel Arteta's dismissal for an apparent stamp on Gonzalo Jara ended it.
Somen Tchoyi then made it three, with Sylvain Distin deflecting Youssouf Mulumbu's strike into his own goal for a fourth. Mulumbu was then given his marching orders for a second yellow card.
Blackpool, Blues and Cottagers in comebacks
At the Reebok Stadium, Bolton came back from 2-0 down to draw with Blackpool. Ian Evatt's header and a Luke Varney strike gave Ian Holloway's visitors the advantage, before Bolton hit back through Martin Petrov and then a stunning team goal which was finished off by Mark Davies.
The games between Fulham and Birmingham and Stoke and Manchester City both ended 1-1.
Sebastien Larsson's goal after smart work from Alexander Hleb gave Birmingham the lead, with Clint Dempsey's header rubbing it out, while at the Britannia Micah Richards produced a piece of individual brilliance to give Manchester City a second-half lead, which Matthew Etherington then cancelled out.