Andy Carroll scored his first goals since March as West Ham United came from behind to beat Swansea City 3-1 on Sunday and claim third place in the Premier League.
Wilfried Bony put Swansea ahead against the run of play, but Carroll, who missed the first three months of the season with an ankle injury, scored twice before teeing up substitute Diafra Sakho to lash in a late third.
Swansea finished the game with 10 men after goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was shown a straight red card for impeding Sakho shortly after Carroll's second goal.
Victory took Sam Allardyce's side up to third place, their highest position since 1999, ahead of fourth-place Southampton's meeting with fifth-place Manchester United at St Mary's on Monday.
Swansea, who have gone 58 years without a league win at Upton Park, remain eighth. Swansea struck from their first attack of note in the 19th minute.
Jefferson Montero exchanged passes with Gylfi Sigurdsson and motored to the byline on the left before pulling the ball back for Bony to steer home his seventh goal of the campaign.
After venturing forwards from right-back, Carl Jenkinson whipped an inviting cross to the far post and Carroll climbed highest to guide a fine header into the top-right corner, 22 minutes after Swansea took the lead.
West Ham introduced fit-again top scorer Sakho at half-time and continued to boss proceedings, although Bony almost restored Swansea's lead on the hour with a vicious shot that grazed the crossbar.
The game was in the balance, but a two-minute spell mid-way through the second period tipped the momentum decisively in West Ham's favour.
Carroll put the hosts ahead in the 66th minute, eluding Swansea's markers to meet Downing's drilled corner with a powerful header that visiting midfielder Leon Britton could only help into the roof of the net.
Moments later, Sakho was impeded by Fabianski, who had come rushing out of his goal, and although the Senegalese striker managed to roll a shot against the post, referee Chris Foy elected to send the Swansea goalkeeper off.
Swansea manager Garry Monk sent on reserve goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel in place of Britton.
Sakho made no mistake three minutes from time when he gathered a flick-on from Carroll before blasting past Tremmel to register his seventh league goal of the season.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Aston Villa came from behind to beat Leicester 2-1 at Villa Park and move into 11th with their second consecutive win. The result leaves the visitors rock bottom of the Premier League and manager Nigel Pearson under increasing pressure.
Leonardo Ulloa had given Pearson's side the lead after 13 minutes after tapping home Brad Guzan's fumbled save.
But the lead didn't last long, Ciaran Clark levelling with a fine steered header to the delight of the home fans.
Alan Hutton went on to score Villa's winner after some fine work from Gabriel Agbonlahor and Christian Benteke with 19 minutes remaining.
Hutton nearly turned villain 8 minutes later after the Scot clashed with Leicester's Paul Konchesky. The former England left-back saw red for his part in the scuffle but Hutton, who seemed to instigate the disagreement, got away with just a booking.
Louis van Gaal’s resurgent Manchester United visit St Mary’s on Monday to take on a deflated Southampton side, who have come crashing down to earth after their incredible start to the season.
– La Liga: Ronaldo keeps Real Madrid at the top
To gather an insight into the minds of the two sets of fans we asked members of the respective supporters’ clubs to share with us their predictions, likely line-ups and players to watch.
Do you agree or have they missed the mark? Use #360Fans to share with us your thoughts.
Barny Read – Sport360 journalist and Southampton fan
The Ronald Koeman revolution at Southampton has been brought down to earth in the past two matches. Defeats at home to Manchester City and away to Arsenal still see Saints in third but their credentials as serious title contenders were truly brought to light as nothing more than fantasy.
No doubt this talented side can challenge for a European place but they will not be fighting for top honours until they beat the teams above them. Two wins from 14 against the seven teams that finished higher than Southampton’s 8th last season has carried into this campaign, with losses at the hands of Liverpool and Tottenham added to those against City and the Gunners.
Not bad going for a side in turmoil just months ago but not good enough if they are to upset the established order in the league.
Against Manchester United, injuries are a concern for Koeman with Morgan Schneiderlin and Jack Cork missing out and Toby Alderweireld likely to join them in the St Mary’s stands. It means Harrison Reed may get his first Premier League start and will force Saints into changing a back line and midfield that has been superb so far under the Dutchman.
— Alderweireld Toby (@AlderweireldTob) November 30, 2014
At the other end, Graziano Pelle hasn’t scored in his last five, a worry considering how integral his goals were to Saints’ storming start to the campaign.
Prediction: Southampton 2-2 Man Utd – United are also struggling with injuries and their back four looks budget. Having said that, they are potent at the other end of the field and this has score draw written all over it.
Saints player to watch: HARRISON READ – The 19-year-old has been compared to United legend Paul Scholes and his ability on the ball and eye for a killer pass makes him one of the most exciting players in Saints’ lauded academy. If given a chance, he will be desperate to make an impression and, more importantly, he has the ability to.
United player to watch: JUAN MATA – Having scored against Stoke in midweek, Mata will be determined to go from strength to strength and stake his claims for a regular starting berth. How Victor Wanyama deals with the diminutive Spaniard could prove pivotal.
Likely Saints XI: Forster; Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Bertrand; Victor Wanyama; Steven Davis, Harrison Reed; Dusan Tadic, Shane Long; Graziano Pelle
Where to watch: Dubai Saints take in each and every game at Barasti Beach Bar at Dubai Marina, where you can expect a raucous crowd consisting of both sets of fans at one of the city’s most popular bars.
Ziad Al Jamman – Manchester United Supporters Club UAE
This is a big match between two teams who have had a massive overhaul in the summer transfer market, with players leaving and new names coming in. Southampton have adjusted quicker however it will be interesting to see how their new players deal with the busy Christmas period.
United have now won four straight games in the Premier League, though the constant flow of injuries is a concern; just as it seems we get a few players back, a few more are ruled out. This game could wel be decided by who has the least amount of injuries to key players….United have doubts over a few players of course and Southampton have concerns over Toby Alderweireld, Morgan Schneiderlin and Jack Cork.
— Juan Mata García (@juanmata8) December 3, 2014
Against Stoke, United dug in and defended quite well with Chris Smalling proving that he may just have the quality to step up and be consistent. Wayne Rooney should be back and it would be interesting to see if LVG goes with a front three of the Englishman, Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie or decides to drop RVP after a few weeks of poor performances.
Much of Southampton’s attacking play this season has been through the wings with Dusan Tadic and Nathaniel Clyne. Keep them quiet and United have every chance of picking up the three points and climbing into third place. Saints have done well to get where they are but with recent results going against them, this is the perfect opportunity for United to get points on the board and go into the Christmas fixtures sitting comfortably in the top four.
Prediction: Southampton 0-2 Manchester United. Successive defeats to Arsenal and City have deflated Southampton. United will have too much quality.
Likely United XI: David De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Rojo, Young; Carrick, Herrera, Fellaini, Mata; Falcao, Rooney
United player to watch: ANDER HERRERA – A delight to watch, Herrera always keeps the ball moving. His movement, passing and late runs into the box are reminiscent of the great Paul Scholes at times.
Saints player to watch: GRAZIANO PELLE – The name says it all really. Southampton’s main man this season, Pelle has been going through a slow spell recently but that can often be when forwards are at their most dangerous.
Where to watch: The Dubai branch of the United UAE Supporters’ Club will be watching the game at our main venue at the Harvesters in the Crowne Plaza, Sheikh Zayed Road. Some of us can also be found in Nara Shisha Café and Stars n Bars for our Abu Dhabi-based fans.
Real Madrid equalled a Spanish football record with a victory over Celta Vigo courtesy of yet another hat-trick from the unstoppable Cristiano Ronaldo.
Carlo Ancelotti’s table-toppers have now won 18 consecutive games to level a total previously achieved by Barcelona under Frank Rijkaard in 2005/06, and Los Blancos will fully expect to overhaul that mark when they host Ludogorets in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Ronaldo’s fourth hat-trick of the season started with a hotly-disputed penalty, followed by two clinical second half strikes to take his league tally to 23 goals in 14 games.
t was also his 23rd treble in La Liga history, taking him past Alfredo Di Stefano and Telmo Zarra on the all-time list.
The controversial breakthrough came as Marcelo lifted a ball into the penalty area, Ronaldo gave chase and went down under minimal contact from Castro, earning a penalty from referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco which was bitterly contested by the visiting players before Ronaldo slotted his spot-kick into the bottom right corner.
Ronaldo’s second goal made the game safe 20 minutes into the second half, arriving when Kroos drove forward and Gustavo Cabral’s loose defensive header dropped straight to the Portuguese, who promptly drilled home a fierce right-footed volley.
And Ronaldo completed his hat-trick with nine minutes remaining, stabbing home at the far post to convert Marcelo’s low cross after an incisive burst into the box by Bale.
Reigning champions Atletico Madrid leapfrogged Barcelona into second in La Liga with a hard-fought 2-0 victory away to Elche.
Jose Maria Gimenez opened the scoring in spectacular fashion just past the quarter-hour mark with his first goal for the club, and a Mario Mandzukic strike just after the break was enough to seal the win for Diego Simeone’s men.
After Guilherme Siqueira had seen a cross headed behind, the Brazilian combined with Koke and Arda Turan from the resulting corner, feeding Uruguayan defender Gimenez, who instantly controlled the ball before firing into the roof of the net from the edge of the box to open his account for the club.
Elsewhere, Cordoba finally ended their long wait for a first win since returning to the top flight by overcoming Athletic Bilbao 1-0 at San Mames thanks to a first-half strike by Nabil Ghilas.
The Algerian forward capitalised on a weak pass from Ander Iturraspe to break the deadlock midway through the first half and the Andalusians passed up several opportunities to add to their lead, but then had to survive a late onslaught from Athletic to record their first win in Spain’s top flight for 42 years.