Manchester United surged back from 2-0 down to smash five goals past Tottenham Hotspur after a controversial penalty decision turned the match – and the title race – in their favour.
|Suits you, Sir: Alex Ferguson has plenty to smile about [AFP]
Liverpool's 3-1 victory at Hull City earlier meant the Merseysiders went top on goal difference before United's win opened up a three-point gap with a game in hand.
Two second-half goals by Dirk Kuyt following Xabi Alonso's opener gave Liverpool the points against the relegation strugglers, who had Caleb Folan sent off in the 59th minute.
In the later match, Darren Bent and Luka Modric put the Londoners two up at Old Trafford after 45 minutes.
But in the second half, Michael Carrick won a penalty as he was brought down by Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes, who was shown in replays getting a hand on the ball.
Cristiano Ronaldo put away the kick before a rampaging Wayne Rooney scored two and set up another for Ronaldo.
Dimitar Berbatov then capped a humiliating afternoon for the London club.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said the penalty decision had changed the game.
"We had to get the first goal," Ferguson told Setanta.
"I think we were a bit fortunate (with the penalty). It wasn't a foregone conclusion after that but it gave us impetus.
"But it's a funny game, football – last week we were knocked out of the FA Cup by not getting a penalty."
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp told Setanta that referee Howard Webb had made a "terrible decision."
"That gave them such a lift," he said.
"It was a gift they didn't deserve."
West London beats east
Chelsea stayed third on 71 points with a 1-0 victory at West Ham United.
Fourth-placed Arsenal entertain Middlesbrough on Sunday.
Bottom club West Bromwich Albion gave their fans a glimmer of hope when they overcame Sunderland 3-0, dragging the losers deeper into the mire, but Bolton Wanderers look safe after a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa.
Sixth-placed Everton lost 2-1 at home to Manchester City while Fulham moved up to seventh after beating Stoke City 1-0.
Hull drew 2-2 with Liverpool at Anfield in December but those heady days are long gone as they went into Saturday's match with one win and four draws in the 16 league games since then, and the relegation zone looming.
With Liverpool having scored four goals in each of their last three games Hull worked hard to keep on terms but were undone in first-half stoppage time when Alonso hit a free kick into the wall before lashing in the rebound.
The home team suffered a further setback when Folan was sent off for kicking Martin Skrtel and it looked all over four minutes later as Kuyt headed the second goal.
Hull pulled one back with an excellent effort from Geovanni after 73 minutes.
Fernando Torres struck the bar with a flashing header but Liverpool endured some nervous moments before eventually settling it at the death with Kuyt's second.
Chelsea's title hopes effectively disappeared with their goalless midweek draw with Everton and, with a European Champions League semi-final against Barcelona on Tuesday, there was a lack of urgency about their match at Upton Park.
The visitors went ahead 10 minutes into the second half when Frank Lampard crossed for Salomon Kalou, who controlled the ball well and poked it home for his first goal in 15 games.
Kalou offered West Ham a way back when he brought down Herita Ilunga in the box, only for Petr Cech to save Mark Noble's 71st-minute penalty.