Rock-bottom Sunderland dealt a stunning blow to Chelsea's Barclays Premier League survival hopes as they shattered Jose Mourinho's unbeaten home league record with a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.
Fabio Borini's 82nd minute penalty boosted the Black Cats' slim survival prospects and ended Mourinho's extraordinary run of 77 home league games unbeaten in his two spells in charge.
More importantly the result left Chelsea trailing leaders Liverpool by a point – which Brendan Rodgers' men could increase to four with victory over Norwich at Carrow Road on Easter Sunday.
Sunderland's sensational win looked unlikely when Samuel Eto 'o put Chelsea in front by converting a 12th minute corner from Willian.
But the Black Cats were level within six minutes when man-of-the-moment Connor Wickham tapped home after Chelsea keeper Mark Schwarzer parried a drive from Marcos Alonso.
And Sunderland's fairytale was complete eight minutes from time when Cesar Azlpilicueta was ruled to have fouled Jozy Altidore in the box and Borini stepped up to send Schwarzer the wrong way.
The result sent shockwaves round the Premier League and dealt a blow to the Black Cats' relegation rivals including Cardiff who could only claim a point in a 1-1 draw with Stoke.
The point proved enough to nudge the Bluebirds above relegation rivals Fulham – who lost earlier at Tottenham – but they remain in the drop zone with just three games of the season remaining.
The home side had made a superb start with both Mats Daehli and Jordan Mutch missing fine chances in the early stages before Marko Arnautovic put the visitors in front from the spot on the stroke of half-time.
Peter Whittingham levelled matters in the 51st minute, also from the spot, after Fraizer Campbell was fouled by Steven Nzonzi in the box.
The home side thought they had gone ahead when Juan Cala prodded home on the hour but his effort was ruled out for offside and Stoke could have won it at the death with Oussama Assaidi bringing a brilliant save out of David Marshall and Jon Walters hitting the bar with two minutes to go.
Solskjaer could seek some solace from Fulham's 3-1 defeat to Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Christian Eriksen was the Spurs star as he set up two of the goals which brought an end to a run of two straight victories for Felix Magath's battling Cottagers.
But it was far from straightforward for the home side had who had goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and some wayward finishing to thank for restricting the visitors to one Steve Sidwell goal. Sidwell had fired a 37th-minute equaliser just two minutes after Paulinho had turned home an Eriksen free-kick to give his side the lead.
Harry Kane glanced home an Aaron Lennon cross three minutes into the second half and Younes Kaboul sealed the points for Spurs by knocking in another Eriksen free-kick just past the hour mark.
Sidwell then saw a penalty saved by Lloris. Wilfried Bony all but sealed Swansea's survival and piled more misery on Newcastle boss Alan Pardew by scoring both goals in a 2-1 win at St James's Park.
Shola Amoebi fired home in the 23rd minute to give the Magpies their first goal in four games, but the discontent grew when Bony headed in a Ben Davies cross to equalise on the stroke of half-time.
Bony grabbed the winner from the spot in injury time after Marvin Emnes was brought down by Cheick Tiote in the box, lifting the delighted Swans to 36 points and handing Pardew his fifth successive defeat.
Aston Villa are still not assured of safety despite ending their run of four straight losses with a goalless draw against Southampton at Villa Park.
It could have been worse for Paul Lambert's men with Rickie Lambert uncharacteristically missing two early chances for Saints, while Villa's best chance came from Ashley Westwood who blazed over in the second half. Crystal Palace claimed their fifth straight victory in an emotional 1-0 win over West Ham at Upton Park.
The match was preceded by a minute's silence for Hammers 20-year-old Dylan Tombines who lost his battle against testicular cancer on Friday.
Mile Jedinak won the game with a 59th-minute penalty after Cameron Jerome was brought down by Pablo Armero in the box.
Atletico Madrid are just three more wins from a first La Liga titles since 1996 after surviving a big scare to claim a flattering victory over Elche and extend their lead at the top of the table to six points.
Late goals from Miranda and Diego Costa, from the penalty spot, came after an earlier miss by David Villa from 12 yards, which had sparked fears that Diego Simeone’s men might falter, but they battled their way through.
With four games remaining, Los Rojiblancos need to win just three of them – assuming Real Madrid stay unbeaten – to celebrate an unlikely title triumph.
Atletico made a bright start and Costa soon fired into the sidenetting after a slick passing move involving Tiago and Adrian.
But Elche then came into the game and went on to enjoy the better of the first half, regularly threatening to open up the home team’s usually watertight defence.
Atletico keeper Thibaut Courtois made a good save to tip aside a low 25-yard strike from Javi Marquez, and then did even better to protect his goal with a flying stop to keep out Cristian Sapunaru’s header from the resulting corner.
Another chance came the home team’s way when left back Filipe Luis ventured forward to attack a right wing cross but badly sliced his shot wide.
Elche continued to threaten and had a fine chance when Carles Gil raced into the box, but the youngster leant back as he struck the ball and fired well over the bar.
After their lacklustre opening period, Atletico started the second half in a much more determined fashion and soon had a golden opportunity to go ahead after Sapunaru’s challenge on Raul Garcia resulted in a penalty, but Villa’s poorly struck effort was saved by Manu Herrera.
Villa then had a goal disallowed for offside after a flick-on by Luis as the hosts started to generate sustained pressure for the first time in the game.
Garcia headed over the top from a set piece and Costa mishit a difficult chance into the arms of Herrera after barging his way into the area, but Atletico’s nerves started to jangle as the final 20 minutes arrived with the game still goalless.
The breakthrough finally arrived from a familiar route as Jose Sosa delivered a deep corner and Miranda rose to power a perfectly aimed header into the far corner.
Courtois saved a header from Carlos Sanchez as Elche fought hard, but Costa earned and converted a stoppage time penalty, which also saw Sapunaru sent off, to secure the points.
The shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year was released on Friday with Liverpool trio Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge, Manchester City’s Yaya Toure, Eden Hazard of Chelsea and Southampton’s Adam Lallana nominated for the award.
Here Andy Gray and Richard Keys, who front beIN Sports’ Premier League coverage, discuss who they think is English football’s finest in 2013/14 as well as running the rule over the weekend fixtures.
Andy Gray: If you’re looking for a player who has contributed the most to their team then there are three: Toure, Hazard and Suarez and you could make a case for each of them. But if I was voting today, even though sometimes he makes me really angry with his diving, it would be Suarez.
People have dived for decades, it’s not a new thing. Players have arrived in the Premier League and done so, Didier Drogba being one such player. But Didier learned and he curbed it. Suarez doesn’t need to do what he does. He’s got so much talent and ability.
His contribution as a player, creatively and scoring goals, has been a dream for Brendan Rodgers. Norwich have been a profitable team for Suarez. He has 11 goals in his last four games against them. On a normal day, as a normal game, you’d fancy Liverpool to win fairly comfortably but it’s not a normal day, or a normal game – it’s coming to the end of the season, and whatever Liverpool say about not feeling nervous, they will.
If I was Norwich I would be more than happy to keep it 0-0 until half-time and then start to work on the nerves of the Liverpool players who haven’t been down this route before. But Liverpool know what is at stake, they have it in their hands, know how much it means to the fans and the club. They won’t be treating anyone differently, be it Manchester City or Norwich. 1-2.
Richard Keys: If Suarez gets Liverpool over the line – I don’t care if he fell over against Manchester City, his contribution has been enormous – I would give it to him.
But if Chelsea win the league I’d give it to Hazard. I don’t think you should hand out these awards until something has been decided. The voting shouldn’t close until the last day of the season.
I don’t understand in the modern world why you couldn’t put the vote out on the Monday morning and then give out the award on a Monday night. We have TV talent shows with a faster voting process.
There are still elements of Suarez’s character we frown upon, but sometimes we frown upon them because of who he is. When Steven Gerrard falls over we applaud that and we’re happy to receive a penalty, so there’s a huge amount of hypocrisy on our part.
Liverpool will win at Carrow Road. Norwich had a good 20 minutes against Fulham but nothing more than that. Fulham beat them fairly comfortably in the end, and that was Fulham. If Liverpool are at it, I could seen them winning comfortably. If Norwich get two more points they’ll be lucky. 1-3.
Chelsea v Sunderland
AG: Chelsea have been given a lifeline, all along Jose Mourinho has been saying “we have a false lead”, but now it’s genuine because he knows if his team win their last four games they will be champions.
I know they have a semi-final of a Champions League either side of Liverpool coming up, but if you want to win the big prizes you have to accept that sometimes you will come across such a fixture list.
They’ll be too strong for Sunderland, we won’t find them as flat as Manchester City were. 2-0.
RK: I think it will be goalless after the hour but Chelsea will probably nick it because they can grind games out. If they get out of the traps early then they can win three or four-nil but it’s likely Sunderland will dig in.
Chelsea know the situation like Liverpool do. 1-0.
Man City v West Brom
AG: City have to be hurting andthey have to be hoping to keep winning, hope Chelsea beat Liverpool and then have a slip up because they’ll have the Champions League – maybe a final – to think about.
All they can do now is win all their games. West Brom are spirited but they concede too many and City are due a performance – 3-0.
RK: I’ve said since the start of the season when it comes to the time when City have got to hurt and go the extra mile, they won’t. City should beat West Brom but I quite like what Pepe Mel has been doing at the Hawthorns of late.
They can score goals, and if they can stop conceding late on, they’ll start winning matches. At the moment the desire isn’t there for City – Toure isn’t there and Sergio Aguero isn’t looking anything like the player he should or can be. 2-2.
Everton v Man United
AG: It was a poor result for Everton against Crystal Palace, I was a bit disappointed Roberto Martinez made as many changes as he did. I don’t get that with the modern manager. Players are not tired, they want to play.
You can bet Steven Naismith wanted to play, so get him on the field. I can see United getting a point, they normally play quite well at Goodison Park. 1-1.
RK: It will almost certainly be a 2-0 United win, Wayne Rooney will get the first and Marouane Fellaini the second with his first goal in a red shirt. Because that’s just how football is. Everton looked like they had hit the wall against Crystal Palace in midweek.
Hull v Arsenal
AG: Hull have FA Cup final places to play for, but I think Arsenal have a determination right now. The semi-final win over Wigan and beating West Ham were huge boosts for them. I think they’ll win their last four games. 0-1.
RK: Arsenal will win it 2-0. Hull will be thinking we’re all but safe. Arsenal are now likely to win their last four.
Cardiff v Stoke
AG: Cardiff know that each game that goes by is a final opportunity for them to try and stay up. With each game the relegation situation become muddier, you have to assess it on a weekly basis. But I’m going to go for a home win because of the momentum Cardiff have and the atmosphere at home. 2-1.
RK: Cardiff have got a little bit of something going for them at the moment. I don’t know if it’s a bit too late but Stoke don’t have to go there and win. There’s a glimmer of hope for Cardiff and I think they’ll win this with that in mind. 2-1.
Aston Villa v Southampton
AG: Paul Lambert is now in charge of a team who have lost more leagues games at home than any other manager in Villa’s history – 10.
They have no leadership, I’m not sure what Paul is trying to do with regards how they play, I don’t think the players know either. 1-3.
RK: Villa are a shambles. I don’t blame Paul Lambert because he’s had two really difficult seasons with Randy Lerner pulling the plug. He’s trying to get out and sell the club.
It’s no better or worse than when Alex McLeish was there. It won’t improve until somebody invests at the club. Villa aren’t a young side, they’re just a poor side. Southampton are still playing nice football and everybody who goes to Villa must fancy their chances. 1-2.
Newcastle v Swansea
AG: Swansea are in freefall but have a bit of work to do. In the last couple of weeks Newcastle have looked like they’re on the beach and thinking of their holidays and Alan Pardew needs to do something quickly to address that.
It’s a good game for them to have because Swansea are a nice team with nice footballers, but if you’re at it, you can get into them and if I’m Pardew I’d be sending my team out to go and do exactly that. If they lose this game I think he’ll be sacked. 3-1.
RK: This might just be the result that is the end for Pardew. Swansea will win simply because there’s enough in this game for them to want to win, and because there’s no opposition. 1-2.
Tottenham v Fulham
AG: Tottenham have to keep their foot on the pedal because United are in danger of beating them to that last Europa League spot. Despite having won two in a row, I don’t think Fulham have enough to make it three. 2-1.
RK: I’m going 2-2 because Spurs have got goals in them, but they can be really poor at the back and Fulham have got the bit between their teeth. A point from this game and there’s nothing between them and Norwich.
West Ham v Crystal Palace
AG: Football history tells you for a team like Palace to win five out of five is nothing short of a miracle. There won’t be a lot of goals, so I’m going 1-0 West Ham.
RK: I’m going 1-1 because I don’t think Palace can keep winning. Five wins in a row would be phenomenal.