Everton won 1-0 at bottom club Sunderland to leapfrog Arsenal into fourth place in the Premier League on Saturday while the relegation battle intensified with wins for three clubs in danger of the drop.
The only goal at the Stadium of Light came after 75 minutes when Sunderland defender Wes Brown chested a cross into his own net to give Everton a seventh successive victory and move them into the Champions League places.
With five matches to play Everton have 66 points, two more than Arsenal who were playing FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
Before match Sunderland manager Gus Poyet said his team “needed a miracle” to surive the drop and he now needs an even bigger one as Sunderland’s defeat left them four points adrift at the bottom.
Second-from-bottom Cardiff City won 1-0 at Southampton with defender Juan Cala scoring after 65 minutes and Fulham, who are 18th, beat fourth-from-bottom Norwich City 1-0 at Craven Cottage.
Fulham’s winner came from Hugo Rodallega who had not scored in the league until last week’s win at Aston Villa and has now grabbed two in two games as Fulham eye an unlikely escape.
Crystal Palace eased their relegation fears with a 1-0 home win over Aston Villa thanks to Jason Puncheon’s 76th minute winner but West Bromwich Albion, who started the day in 16th place, drew 3-3 with Tottenham Hotspur after leading 2-0 after four minutes and 3-0 after 31.
Palace’s victory saw them climb to 37 points and virtual safety while West Brom stayed in 16th place.
The bottom four positions are occupied by Norwich who have 32 points, followed by Fulham (30), Cardiff (29) and Sunderland(25). Sunderland have two games in hand on the teams above them but look to be slipping out of the top flight.