An Andre Schurrle hat-trick stretched Chelsea’s lead in the Premier League on Saturday, while Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew was sent off for headbutting an opposition player.
Germany international Schurrle scored three times in 17 second-half minutes as Chelsea won 3-1 at Fulham and a 1-0 loss for Arsenal at Stoke City left Jose Mourinho’s side with a four-point lead over their London rivals.
New Fulham manager Felix Magath was overseeing his first home game and he almost saw his side take an early lead when Clint Dempsey headed wide from close range.
However, after Fulham goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg had saved from Fernando Torres just before half-time, Schurrle made the breakthrough in the 52nd minute when he ran through to score from a lofted Eden Hazard pass.
Hazard teed up Schurrle for his second goal in the 65th minute before Torres released the former Bayer Leverkusen man for his third goal four minutes later.
Victory extended Chelsea’s lead to six points over Manchester City, who have two games in hand, while Fulham, who replied through Jonny Heitinga, remain four points adrift of safety at the foot of the table.
Unlike City, who tackle Sunderland in Sunday’s League Cup final, second-placed Arsenal do not have the consolation of any games in hand on Chelsea after their defeat at Stoke.
Manager Arsene Wenger had Mesut Ozil back in the squad after injury, but he saw his side beaten by a 76th-minute Jonathan Walters penalty after Laurent Koscielny had been penalised for handball.
Arsenal’s defeat, their fifth of the season, means that they could be overtaken by Liverpool, who visit Southampton later on Saturday.
Newcastle won 4-1 at Hull, but the match was overshadowed by Pardew’s dismissal for aiming a headbutt at home midfielder David Meyler.
Pardew was ordered from the dugout following a touchline tussle with Meyler in the 72nd minute and is likely to face further punishment from the Football Association.
Moussa Sissoko scored twice for Newcastle, with Loic Remy and Vurnon Anita also on target, while Curtis Davies replied for Hull.
Romelu Lukaku marked his return from a month-long absence with an ankle injury by coming off the bench to score the winning goal for Everton in a 1-0 win at home to West Ham United.
The Belgian slammed home from Leighton Baines’s pass in the 81st minute to end West Ham’s run of four consecutive wins and take Everton to within two points of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.