Manchester City opened up a four-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a 1-0 win over bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United, while Everton’s bid for a top-four finish was dented by a shock home defeat by Newcastle.
Gabriel Jesus scored the only goal inside the first 10 minutes at the Etihad as City extended their winning run to 12 games in all competitions.
Pep Guardiola’s men thrashed West Brom 5-0 in midweek, but after beating Manchester United away on Wednesday, the Blades again belied their lowly position to put up a fight against the leaders.
“People think if we won the last one 5-0, we will win this one 5-0. This is the real world, not a fairytale,” said Guardiola.
“Today when I see Sheffield is bottom of the league. You see his team and realise how tough is the Premier League.”
Ferran Torres and Jesus were two of five changes made by Guardiola and they combined to make the breakthrough as the Brazilian tapped home for his first Premier League goal since November.
City failed to build on the lead, but comfortably held out for a 15th clean sheet in their last 19 games to pull clear of second-placed Manchester United, who visit Arsenal later on Saturday.
At the other end of the table, Newcastle were the big winners of the day as they pulled clear of the drop zone with a first win in 12 games, while two of the bottom three West Brom and Fulham played out a 2-2 draw.
Magpies manager Steve Bruce’s future was under the spotlight after a wretched run that plunged his side into the relegation dogfight.
But Callum Wilson scored twice in the final 17 minutes to earn a deserved 2-0 victory at Goodison Park on a bad day for Carlo Ancelotti’s men.
“We were lazy, we were slow, we were not focused,” said Ancelotti.
Everton could have moved to within a point of local rivals Liverpool in fourth with a win, but rarely looked like scoring and were finally punished for a poor performance when Wilson lost his marker at a Jonjo Shelvey corner and looped a header across Jordan Pickford and inside the far upright.
Wilson was then denied by the post after rounding Pickford, but the former Bournemouth striker made no mistake when Newcastle countered quickly in stoppage time.
“There’s no disputing it — it’s been very difficult,” said Bruce.
“We’re trying to be more on the front foot and push up the pitch. That’s something we want to do more. We were a lot better.”
Bruce’s men are now eight points clear of the relegation zone after a point each did little for West Brom or Fulham’s battle to beat the drop.
The visitors were dominant in the first half at the Hawthorns and were made to regret not building on Bobby Decordova-Reid’s opener.
Kyle Bartley levelled for the Baggies two minutes into the second half before new signing Mbaye Diagne teed up Matheus Pereira to turn the game around.
Ivan Cavaleiro’s equaliser ensured Fulham remain above West Brom in 18th and edged to within four points of safety.
Crystal Palace eased fears they could be dragged into a scrap for survival as Eberechi Eze’s winner earned the Eagles a 1-0 win over Wolves to move up to 13th.