Leon Osman and Nikica Jelavic struck as ten-man Everton delivered a potentially fatal blow to Manchester City’s title hopes.
The Toffees spent the week soul-searching after their loss to Wigan in the FA Cup quarter-finals but they looked back to their best in a fiery clash at Goodison Park.
Kevin Mirallas had a goal harshly disallowed before Osman scored from 25-yards out after 32 minutes and the Toffees held on despite the dismissal of Steven Pienaar. City piled the pressure on but Everton rode the storm and broke away in injury time through Marouane Fellaini, who rolled wide for Jelavic to beat Joe Hart with a deflected shot. City could have had a penalty late on when Fellaini was penalised for handling a Carlos Tevez shot but referee Lee Probert mistakenly thought the offence had occurred outside the area.
Wayne Rooney’s 16th goal of the season was enough to propel Manchester United 15 points clear with just nine games remaining in the title race. Rooney’s deflected first-half effort saw off a dogged Reading outfit, who worked hard but lacked the class to fashion an equaliser.
Aston Villa gave their Premier League survival hopes another boost after beating fellow strugglers Queens Park Rangers. Jermaine Jenas struck to give QPR the lead, but Gabriel Agbonlahor’s header levelled matters. Andreas Weimann then struck for Villa on the hour. QPR showed belief to equalise through Andros Townsend but Christian Benteke scored a vital winner for Paul Lambert’s men.
Southampton recorded an impressive 3-1 win over Liverpool at St Mary’s. The hosts opened the scoring early on through Morgan Schneiderlin and Rickie Lambert should have doubled Southampton’s advantage but shot straight at Brad Jones before the striker saw a deflected free-kick make it 2-0 12 minutes before the break.
Philippe Coutinho cut Liverpool’s deficit before the break but Jay Rodriguez scored a tremendous individual effort to wrap up the points and give Mauricio Pochettino a welcome second win as Saints’ manager.
Arsenal closed to within two points of the Champions League places with a 2-0 win at Swansea. A first Arsenal goal for left-back Nacho Monreal and a strike from substitute Gervinho secured the three points after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rattled the crossbar twice for Arsene Wenger’s side in the first half.
Stoke and West Brom shared a goalless draw at the Britannia Stadium.