LONDON (AP) — Chelsea moved provisionally top of the English Premier League by beating Hull 2-0 on Saturday, while Manchester United ended a sorry run of three straight defeats to lift the gloom surrounding the reigning champions.
Meanwhile, there were huge wins for Sunderland and West Ham over fellow relegation rivals at the foot of the table, leaving the battle to avoid the drop up for grabs with the bottom 11 teams separated by only six points.
Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres scored second-half goals to seal a fourth straight victory for Chelsea, which climbed above Arsenal and Manchester City in the standings ahead of their games on Monday and Sunday respectively.
United had moved to the brink of a crisis, by its high standards, after losing three games in six days to kick off 2014, but a 2-0 win over Swansea will boost the confidence among David Moyes' squad and keeps his seventh-place team in touch with the top four.
Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck scored goals in a 13-minute span at the start of the second half for United.
Everton will spend the night in fourth thanks to a 2-0 win over Norwich in a shutout by American goalkeeper Tim Howard, and Tottenham also boosted its chances of finishing in the Champions League spots by earning a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace, which slipped to last place.
That's because Sunderland, which started the day at the bottom, beat Fulham 4-1 mainly thanks to a hat trick by winger Adam Johnson, who converted an 86th-minute penalty kick after Philippe Senderos fouled American Jozy Altidore. American captain Clint Dempsey, back with Fulham on a two-month loan from Seattle, made his first EPL start for the Cottagers since May 2012 and was welcomed with warm applause from the home fans.
West Ham was next to last at kickoff but climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 win at Cardiff, despite playing the final stages with 10 men following James Tomkins' sending-off.
England midfielder Adam Lallana scored Southampton's winner in a 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion in the day's other game.
MADRID (AP) — Spanish co-leaders Atletico Madrid and Barcelona drew 0-0 in their first league meeting of the season on Saturday.
The teams finished the first half of the season tied with 50 points after an exciting, back-and-forth showdown at Vicente Calderon Stadium yielded no winner.
Barcelona was troubled by Atletico pair Diego Costa and Arda Turan throughout, while second-half substitute Lionel Messi enjoyed the visitors' best chances as the Barcelona forward headed wide before forcing goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois into a clutch stop in the 81st.