Liverpool score last gasp win
Maxi Rodriguez scored four minutes from time to earn Liverpool a 1-0 win at Bolton Wanderers which lifted them out of the Premier League relegation zone on Sunday.
The Argentine midfielder latched on to a Fernando Torres backheel to secure a first away league win of the season for the 18-times champions who had again looked totally bereft of attacking ideas.
That was not the case at St James' Park where Newcastle United chalked up their biggest home win over local rivals Sunderland for more than half a century when they thrashed the 10-man Wearsiders 5-1 with a hat-trick from captain Kevin Nolan.
Image: Liverpool's Maxi Rodriguez (centre) celebrates with Fernando Torres (left) and Raul Meireles (right) after scoring during against Bolton Wanderers on Sunday
'It was a tough game, not a great performance but we dug in'
Liverpool had won their last seven games against Bolton but were desperately short of class at The Reebok.
They defended well, particularly in holding off the muscular presence of striker Kevin Davies, but created little in attack with Joe Cole having another miserable day and Torres also out of touch.
However, with a goalless stalemate looming, the Spain forward opened up the home defence with a deft backheel through his marker's legs to send Rodriguez through to poke the ball under Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Liverpool's second successive win lifted them from 18th to 12th on 12 points, 13 behind leaders Chelsea who won 2-1 at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
"It's nice to be out of that bottom three, we've been in there a while so it's been difficult to look at the table," Liverpool centre back Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports.
"It was a tough game, not a great performance but we dug in."
Image: Bolton Wanderers' Zat Knight challenges Liverpool's Fernando Torres (top) during their match on Sunday
'That hat-trick will live with me forever'
Newcastle matched the four-goal margin of their 6-2 victory over Sunderland in 1956.
Although the visitors had Titus Bramble sent off after 53 minutes for a professional foul they were already 3-0 down.
Nolan put Newcastle two up with goals after 26 and 34 minutes and Shola Ameobi's penalty made it 3-0 at the break.
Ameobi added his second after 70 minutes after barnstorming striker Andy Carroll's header came back off the bar and Nolan nodded in the fifth five minutes later.
Darren Bent got Sunderland's goal in the dying minutes.
"It's fantastic, that hat-trick will live with me forever," said Nolan.
Image: Newcastle United's Kevin Nolan (right) celebrates after scoring against Sunderland on Sunday
'We had quality in front of goal today'
The morale-boosting victory came at the end of a week when Newcastle manager Chris Hughton had been subjected to media speculation that his job was on the line, forcing the club to issue a statement of support.
Hughton said: "We knew how big a game it was and you can see what it means to the fans. It was a fantastic team performance with some outstanding individual performances. We had that quality in front of goal today.
"It's been a tough week, but a very, very good day."
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce apologised to the fans on the club's website (www.safc.com).
"We've let ourselves down and it couldn't have happened at a worse place," he said. "We were beaten well and truly, we were naive and didn't handle the occasion at all."
Aston Villa and Birmingham City drew 0-0 in the day's other derby.
Image: Sunderland's Phil Bardsley (right) challenges Newcastle United's Andy Carroll on Sunday
Chelsea, Arsenal win tough
Chelsea and Arsenal eked out gritty victories and Manchester United beat Tottenham Hotspur as usual with the help of a controversial goal in the Premier League on Saturday.
Leaders Chelsea snatched a 2-1 win at Blackburn Rovers through a late Branislav Ivanovic strike and Alex Song's 88th-minute header secured a 1-0 win for Arsenal over West Ham United.
Manchester United, who have not lost at home to Tottenham for 21 years, sunk their London rivals again as a Nemanja Vidic header and a bizarre late goal by Nani secured a 2-0 victory but big-spending Manchester City suffered a second successive loss, going down 2-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
As usual, Spurs played their part in a lively, entertaining game that looked to be drifting towards a regulation 1-0 win for the hosts thanks to Vidic's 31st-minute header.
Image: Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic (left) celebrates scoring with Didier Drogba against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday
Man Utd freak goal
However, in an incident that will be replayed and discussed relentlessly, Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes thought a free kick had been awarded against Nani after the winger handled the ball while appealing for a penalty six minutes from time.
Gomes placed the ball on the ground and retreated, only for Nani, aware that the referee had actually ruled "play on", to nip in and tuck the ball into the unguarded net.
"Nani went back, looked at the referee, he said play on, so what can he do but put the ball in the net?," United manager Alex Ferguson told ESPN.
"You can look at the referee and the linesman and blame them but the goalkeeper should know better. He is an experienced goalkeeper and he made a mess of it."
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp took a different view.
"He (Nani) should have been booked for a deliberate handball," he said. "The referee has not seen it. The linesman has seen it that is why he has flagged. He has gone over there and told him what he did and he should have disallowed the goal. Gomes put the ball down for a free kick."
Image: Manchester United's Nani (left) celebrates after scoring as Tottenham Hotspur's goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes (right) appeals to the referee on Saturday
Chelsea eke out win, Arsenal dominant
Blackburn were well on top of a lacklustre Chelsea in the early stages and took a deserved lead through Benjani Mwaruwari after 21 minutes before the visitors hit back through Nicolas Anelka six minutes before halftime.
Chelsea, held 1-1 by Blackburn last season, eventually awoke from their torpor and even though they struggled to create chances they found a way through when Yuri Zhirkov's cross was headed home by Ivanovic after 84 minutes.
Arsenal dominated possession at the Emirates, hitting the woodwork twice, but had to wait until the 88th minute to find a way past obdurate West Ham as Gael Clichy crossed for Song to nod in his third goal in a week.
"Song is amazing, he has added something to his game. He came as a centre back, becomes a defensive midfielder and now he's playing like a striker," said Arsene Wenger.
Manchester City were all over Wolves initially but after a 23rd-minute Emmanuel Adebayor penalty they sat back and paid a heavy price when Nenad Milijas equalised and David Edwards scrambled in a winner after 57 minutes.
Image: Arsenal's Alex Song (right) celebrates with teammate Gael Clichy after scoring against West Ham on Saturday