Chelsea moved back up to third in the Premier League table and in a strong position to qualify for next season's Champions League with a win at Manchester United, while Liverpool and Everton played out a goalless draw.
Juan Mata's deflected late winner - which later went down as a Phil Jones own goal - earned the 1-0 victory for Chelsea over 10-man Man United after the drabbest of affairs seemed certain to end in a goalless stalemate until the shot flicked off Jones and crept in at the far post.
United thought they should have had a free-kick earlier in the move and their frustrations boiled over as Rafael was sent off in the final minute for chopping down David Luiz.
The result means victory for Chelsea against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday will all but seal a top-four spot thanks to their superior goal difference.
Liverpool and Everton cancelled each other out in a 0-0 and forgettable 220th Merseyside derby bereft of incident.
The draw may have strengthened the Toffees' chances of finishing above their near-neighbours for the second successive season - something which has not happened since 1937 - but they rarely came close to ending a 14-year winless run at Anfield.
Midfielder Marouane Fellaini had the visitors' best chance, volleying wide from close range in the first half, while Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard saw Sylvain Distin clear off the line after the break.
However, just three bookings in a game which has seen 20 red cards in the previous 41 meetings indicated a lack of bite.
Everton were though angered after having a Distin goal disallowed for a foul on Pepe Reina by Victor Anichebe, but it means the Toffees are now almost certain to finish above their arch rivals in the table.