Manchester City's title hopes are back in their own hands as they took full advantage of Chelsea's 2-0 victory over Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.
Blues boss Jose Mourinho rested players ahead of the Champions League semifinal second leg with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, and handed youngster Tomas Kalas a surprise start in central defence, while Brendan Rodgers kept faith with the Liverpool side that defeated Norwich last weekend.
At the end of a first half memorable only for Chelsea's time-wasting tactics, Steven Gerrard received a pass around the halfway line, which he miscontrolled and then lost his footing in his panic to recover the ball. Demba Ba pounced then raced towards goal, keeping his composure to slip the ball through the legs of Simon Mignolet and into the net in front of a silenced Kop.
Liverpool continued to knock on the door throughout the second half but, with seconds remaining, substitute Fernando Torres was left with a clear run through on goal and slipped the ball to Willian to complete a shock result.
Manchester City then claimed all three points from their trip to Crystal Palace, beating the Eagles 2-0 to end the hosts’ run of five straight Premier League victories.
An early goal from Edin Dzeko helped settled the nerves as he headed home Yaya Toure's cross after just four minutes, and Toure doubled City's advantage shortly before half-time, capping a marauding run from halfway with a delightful curling finish into the top corner to send the travelling support -- and City's bench -- wild.
Should City now win their remaining three matches, they are in pole position to lift the trophy. They currently have a goal difference superior to Liverpool by eight goals so victories over Everton, Aston Villa and West Ham should be enough for the club to claim a second Premier League title in three seasons.
Sunderland recorded a 4-0 victory over relegation rivals Cardiff City at the Stadium of Light to lift Gus Poyet's side out of the Premier League drop zone.
Connor Wickham struck in the first half with a header that looped over the Cardiff defenders queued up on the line to clear it. He was then involved in the decisive moment of the match, as Juan Cala pulled him back while through on goal and referee Phil Dowd -- after allowing play to continue for a significant period before deciding the Black Cats had no advantage -- pointed to the spot and showed Cala the red card.
Borini tucked home the penalty, and Emanuele Giaccherini made it three in the second half with a precise finish that beat David Marshall at his near post. The rout was completed by Wickham, whose deflected header squirmed under Marshall in the closing stages of the match.
Sunderland are now ahead of Norwich on goal difference, and have a game in hand that would allow them to further boost their survival prospects.