IMAGES from the English Premier League matches played on Sunday
After the agonies of last week, Liverpool closed to within two points of second-placed Manchester United with a comfortable 2-0 victory at relegation-haunted Southampton on Sunday.
Held 2-2 by top-four rivals Tottenham Hotspur last Sunday in a turbulent game that had manager Juergen Klopp apparently in danger of self combustion, Liverpool barely broke sweat at St Mary's Stadium as Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah ran the show.
Firmino fired Liverpool ahead after seven minutes when Southampton messed up in defence and Salah picked out his fellow forward to stroke home.
The roles were reversed shortly before halftime when Liverpool counter-attacked and Firmino played in Salah for his 22nd goal of the season with an audacious back heel.
Salah is one behind the league's top scorer Harry Kane.
"It was mature today," Klopp said.
"The rhythm was not too good today but we scored wonderful goals and should have scored more. I think we deserved the three points, clean sheet, nearly perfect today. We could have closed it earlier."
Liverpool, who featured three former Southampton players in their starting lineup and also brought on former Saints Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren late on, should have added more in the second half as the hosts offered precious little.
Liverpool have 54 points to United's 56 with Tottenham Hotspur on 52 and champions Chelsea, who play bottom club West Bromwich Albion on Monday, on 50 as the battle for Champions League spots hots up.
Southampton are third from bottom, a point behind 17th-placed Huddersfield Town who won earlier on Sunday.
Their former defender Virgil van Dijk, who joined Liverpool in the recent transfer window after an often acrimonious transfer saga, was booed by the home faithful who had little else to get excited about.
"I think it is a bit unfair because no-one really knows what happened over the summer and the last few months but I just kept my head down and enjoyed it," the Dutchman said.
"I have a lot of good friends (at Southampton), I care for the club. It is difficult to get out of the relegation zone but they have quality players."
Matt Ritchie lifted the gloom on Tyneside with the winner in Newcastle United's crucial 1-0 victory over Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday -- their first three-point haul at home since October.
Newcastle had fallen into the bottom three before kickoff after Huddersfield Town's earlier win over Bournemouth, but they responded with a vibrant display capped by Ritchie's 65th minute effort.
Ritchie was released into space by Dwight Gayle's flick and he buried a low shot past David de Gea.
Gayle was also unlucky not to be awarded a first-half penalty but Man United were guilty of wasteful finishing with Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez the chief culprits.
The visitors almost grabbed a stoppage-time equaliser but debutant goalkeeper Martin Dubravka made a marvellous low save after the ball deflected off one of his own players from close range.
Newcastle's first win over United for five years lifted them from 18th to 13th while Jose Mourinho's second-placed side are now 16 points behind local rivals Manchester City and looking over their shoulders at the teams behind them.
Mourinho has never won a fixture at St James' Park in seven visits, drawing three and losing four.
Huddersfield wallop Bournemouth for vital victory
Huddersfield Town snapped a five-match losing sequence to beat Bournemouth 4-1 and move out of the Premier League's relegation zone on Sunday.
Goals by Beninese striker Steve Mounie either side of halftime put Huddersfield into a deserved two-goal lead after Bournemouth's Junior Stanislas had cancelled out Alex Pritchard's early strike for the hosts with a precise finish.
Mounie headed in Aaron Mooy's free kick in the 27th minute to put the hosts back in front and Mounie struck again in the 66th minute with a superb finish after more good work by Mooy.
Rajiv van la Parra tucked away a stoppage time penalty to complete a satisfying afternoon for David Wagner's side.
Victory did come at a cost for Huddersfield with Australian midfielder Mooy leaving the pitch on a stretcher in the second half after a clash of knees.