London: Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew was sent from the dugout for headbutting a Hull City player while Chelsea striker Andre Schurrle scored a hat-trick as the Premier League leaders won 3-1 at Fulham on Saturday.
Liverpool jumped from fourth to second after winning 3-0 at Southampton, leapfrogging Arsenal and Manchester City.
Arsenal stumbled in the scramble for the title, going down to a 0-1 defeat at Stoke City, while Manchester City were without a league match as they are playing Sunderland in the Capital One (League) Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.
The results left Chelsea top with 63 points from 28 games, followed by Liverpool on 59 ahead of Arsenal on goal difference. Fourth-placed Manchester City, who have two matches in hand on the clubs above them, have 57 points.
While Schurrle’s Chelsea treble, and goals by Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and a Steven Gerrard penalty for Liverpool, will make headlines for the right reasons, Newcastle manager Pardew’s name will be splashed across the pages for the wrong ones.
He was sent off by referee Kevin Friend for headbutting Hull midfielder David Meyler during a 4-1 away win at the KC Stadium.
The incident began when Meyler tried to move Pardew, who was standing by the touchline, out of the way to take a quick throw. Meyler was handed a yellow card for his part in the fracas which involved a whole host of jostling players and officials.
In another match, Everton beat West Ham United 1-0 with a late goal from Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku.
The silent treatment worked for Jose Mourinho after Schurrle’s devastating 16-minute second half hat-trick gave Chelsea a win.
After a lacklustre opening period the Portuguese manager refused to speak to his players at halftime and they responded emphatically with a much improved performance.
Chelsea tore into the division’s bottom side in the second half and they produced a relentless spell in which German forward Schurrle was unforgiving in front of goal.
“It’s something I expect from him,” Mourinho said of Schurrle after his three-goal haul doubled his goals tally for the Chelsea for the season.
“I think he is in a learning process in relation to the Premier League. It is difficult for him to play 90 minutes for us because he is doing things he’s never done in his life.
“But what I expect from him is this cold blood when he is in front of the goal.”
Chelsea struggled to find their rhythm in the first half and Mourinho admitted after the game that he chose not to speak to his players at the break for the first time in his managerial career.
“I didn’t say a word at halftime,” he explained.
“I decided not to speak because if I decided to speak about the first half I’d need more than the 10 minutes. I haven’t had many first halves like this one.
“I think this was what you call a game of two halves. The first half was poor, the second was brilliant.”