Everton boosted their chances of qualifying for the Champions League with a 1-0 victory over Reading at Goodison Park which sent the Royals into the Premier League relegation zone.
Phil Jagielka's first goal in an Everton shirt in the 62nd minute condemned Steve Coppell's side to their seventh consecutive defeat, and their ninth on the road this season.
The goal came after Reading failed to fully clear Mikel Arteta's corner and Leon Osman floated the ball back into the penalty area for Jagielka whose header looped over Reading goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann.
David Moyes' side are now three points clear of fifth-placed Aston Villa and four points ahead of city rivals Liverpool, although Rafael Benitez's side have two games in hand.
A hat-trick from John Carew had earlier inspired Villa.to a 4-1 home victory over Newcastle in the day's early kick-off to leave Kevin Keegan still searching for his first win since he returned to the Magpies.
Newcastle looked to be on course for their first win in nine games after Michael Owen's deflected header gave them a fourth-minute lead at Villa Park which they held until the break.
But Wilfred Bouma equalised with his first goal for Villa in the 48th minute before Carew's header put Martin O'Neill's side ahead for the first time in the match three minutes later.
Carew headed his second in the 72nd minute and then added third from the penalty spot after Stephen Carr handled in the area to complete the scoring.
Sunderland boosted their hopes of survival with a 2-0 win over Wigan at the Stadium of Light and gave Roy Keane the bragging rights over his former Manchester United team-mate Steve Bruce.
The Black Cats went ahead three minutes before the break when an unmarked Dickson Etuhu headed Dean Whitehead's cross past Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland.
Sunderland striker Daryl Murphy doubled his side's advantage in spectacular fashion in the 75th minute when his 25-yard shot flew into the top-left corner of the net.
West Ham and Birmingham finished at 1-1 after James McFadden equalised for the Blues with his first goal since his move from Everton.
The Hammers took the lead in the seventh minute when Freddie Ljungberg latched on to Carlton Cole's flick from a long throw.to tap home from close range but the visitors levelled in the 16th minute after West Ham defender Lucas Neill fouled McFadden inside the penalty area.
The Scotland international took the spot-kick and placed the ball into the bottom-left corner of the net.
Derby suffered their ninth home defeat of the season after Tottenham ran out comfortable 3-0 winners at Pride Park.
Robbie Keane gave Spurs the lead in the 68th minute when he produced a simple close-range finish after Derby goalkeeper Roy Carroll had parried Steed Malbranque's shot.
Younes Kaboul added a second goal nine minutes from time when he seized on Pascal Chimbonda's knockdown to drive the ball home from just inside the penalty area.
Spurs were awarded a penalty in injury-time after Alan Stubbs had handled inside the area and Dimitar Berbatov successfully converted resulting spot-kick.
Middlesbrough striker Jeremie Aliadiere netted in the 11th minute to give his side a deserved 1-0 win over Fulham at the Riverside Stadium.
Gary O'Neil threaded a neat pass down the right and Aliadiere beat the offside trap before he struck his shot through the legs of Fulham goalkeeper Antti Niemi from a narrow angle.
Meanwhile a scrambled goal from Lassana Diarra gave Portsmouth a 1-0 win over Bolton at Fratton Park.