Hero Hernandez, Torres finally scores
Javier Hernandez proved the hero as Manchester United grabbed a late 1-0 win against Everton to further enhance their Premier League title bid.
Hernandez, having been foiled by Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard on more than one occasion in the preceding 83 minutes at Old Trafford, was in the right place at the right time to nod Antonio Valencia's pinpoint ball just inside the scrambling American's far post - belatedly securing all three points just as it looked like David Moyes' resolute side would hang on for a goalless draw.
Sir Alex Ferguson made a number of changes for the contest, resting the likes of Nemanja Vidic and Ryan Giggs ahead of the midweek Champions League semi-final with Schalke, while Moyes clearly set his side out to be solid in midfield. Despite that, United started the brighter of the two teams, Nani firing straight at Howard after good work from Wayne Rooney.
At half-time Everton made changes, with Tim Cahill and Victor Anichebe replacing the ineffective duo of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Jermaine Beckford, and they almost had the desired effect as Jack Rodwell forced Edwin van der Sar into a world class save. Gradually United took back control of the game, Hernandez testing Howard's reflexes with a back-post header that looked destined for the net.
The little Mexican had his revenge minutes later though, as the No. 19 nodded the ball inside the near post in an almost identical situation from Valencia's clipped cross, moving United a step closer to Premier League title No. 19.
Fernando Torres broke his scoring drought as Chelsea won 3-0 against West Ham to close the gap on Man Utd to six points.
On a wet Stamford Bridge pitch, Frank Lampard opened the scoring just before half-time after a great run and cross from left-back Ashley Cole. Then, with West Ham close to equalising after great chances for Carlton Cole and Robbie Keane, Torres replaced Didier Drogba and opened his Chelsea account.
The £50 million Spanish striker raced onto Nicolas Anelka's pass and, with the ball held up in the water, turned and hammered a left-footed shot into the bottom of the net to finally quell the talk of his goal drought.
He then turned provider as his through pass found Florent Malouda, who hammered the ball into the top of the net from just outside the area to give Chelsea a chance of defending their title.
Tottenham failed to apply pressure to Manchester City in the hunt for the final Champions League qualifying spot, drawing 2-2 with West Brom at White Hart Lane. The result means Spurs trail City by a point, having played the extra game, but they are still to face Roberto Mancini's men at Eastlands.
Harry Redknapp's side, who had Gareth Bale but no Aaron Lennon in their starting line-up, suffered a disastrous start on home turf, with Peter Odemwingie handing Albion the lead inside five minutes after capitalising on a hamstring injury suffered by last man Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
Spurs were level before the half-hour, though, thanks to a rasping Roman Pavlyuchenko drive that took Scott Carson by surprise, and they then took the lead through a landmark strike from Jermain Defoe - his 100th league goal - midway through the second half. The Baggies are a difficult team to beat under Roy Hodgson, though, and Simon Cox came up with a contender for goal of the month to snatch a point.
Liverpool were without Andy Carroll for the arrival of Birmingham at Anfield, but the Reds coped admirably to win 5-0. Kenny Dalglish's men are almost guaranteed a top-six finish, now sitting five points ahead of Everton thanks to a Maxi Rodriguez hat-trick.
Dalglish is yet to lose a league game at Anfield since returning as manager, and Rodriguez gave him a flying start, reacting first to poke home Ben Foster's spillage after a superb shot from Jay Spearing. It simply was not Foster's day as he was hopelessly exposed for Liverpool's second, making top-drawer saves from Luis Suarez and Dirk Kuyt, with the Dutchman eventually forcing the ball home at the third attempt.
Foster was then forced off injured before the interval, and Liverpool continued to find the net after the break, Rodriguez grabbing his second following more fine work by Suarez. The Argentine then completed his hat-trick with 17 minutes remaining, before Joe Cole completed the rout to move the Reds within three points of Spurs.
Sunderland can begin to plan for another season in the Premier League after they snapped a four-game losing streak, beating Wigan 4-2 at the Stadium of Light. The result lifts the Black Cats past the safety marker of 40 points, while Wigan drop back into the relegation zone.
Steve Bruce's injury-afflicted side must have felt like the footballing gods were conspiring against them as Phil Bardsley and Danny Welbeck both limped off in the opening half, and things got worse for the hosts when Mohamed Diame scored a superb long-range strike.
However, Roberto Martinez's men are yet to win back-to-back league games under his stewardship, and Sunderland were level within minutes through Asamoah Gyan's first goal in six matches. Jordan Henderson then grabbed a crucial second for Sunderland before the youngster added his own second to Stephane Sessegnon's penalty to surely guarantee the Black Cats' stay in the top flight.
Blackpool moved out of the relegation zone at Bloomfield Road despite extending their winless run to seven matches with a 1-1 draw against Newcastle. Ian Holloway's men now find themselves out of trouble on goal difference, with only four games remaining in the season.
Peter Lovenkrands silenced the Tangerines on 17 minutes, and Holloway was livid on the half-hour when he felt DJ Campbell should have been awarded a penalty, only for replays to prove Tim Krul had got a crucial touch on the ball before colliding with the Blackpool striker.
Holloway's anger did not last long, though, as Campbell scored an equaliser almost immediately, converting Charlie Adam's corner, albeit with the help of Jose Enrique, who positioned himself two yards behind his own goal-line.
Wolves are off the foot of the table but still in deep trouble after they drew 1-1 with Fulham at Molineux. Mick McCarthy's men had lost their previous two fixtures by a three-goal margin, but they had the chance to put their recent woes behind them thanks to an early goal from Steven Fletcher.
Fulham were much the better side in the opening 20 minutes, but that changed when Fletcher converted Karl Henry's wonderful cross. However, Andrew Johnson emerged from the bench to restore parity, leaving Wolves 19th in the table.
In the afternoon's other fixture, Aston Villa played without the guidance of the hospital-bound Gerard Houllier against Stoke, and they came away from Villa Park with a 1-1 draw.
Rory Delap's long throws do not grab as many headlines as they did in the Potters' debut Premier League season, but it was one of his trademark missiles that allowed Kenwyne Jones to glance home the opener on 20 minutes. However, Villa were level by half-time thanks to a stunning 18-yard header from Darren Bent.