LONDON: Manchester United hit back in old-fashioned style for a 3-2 victory against Stoke to save their season from drifting from modest to muddled while Luis Suarez scored a brilliant hat-trick as Liverpool thrashed West Bromwich 4-1 to keep on the pressure on leaders Arsenal.
United, having fallen 11 points adrift of top spot after Arsenal’s 2-0 victory in Saturday’s early game against Crystal Palace, could not afford another off-day against a Stoke side without a win in their last five league games.
However David Moyes’s men, beaten three times already, suffered a nightmare start as Peter Crouch’s close-range finish put the visitors ahead after four minutes.
Robin Van Persie levelled in the 43rd minute only for Stoke to stun stunned Old Trafford by reclaiming the lead just on half-time through Marko Arnautovic’s free-kick.
Two goals in the final 12 minutes from Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez turned the game around for United.
Arsenal had opened up a brief five-point lead over nearest challengers Liverpool and Chelsea after beating Palace, but Brendan Rodgers’ men responded in emphatic fashion to cut the gap back to two.
Suarez scored twice in the opening 17 minutes and then completed the fourth hat-trick of his Anfield career 10 minutes into the second half.
West Brom pulled a goal back through James Morrison’s penalty but Suarez’s strike partner Daniel Sturridge chipped home to wrap up the scoring 14 minutes from time.
Arteta sent off
Earlier, Arsenal beat managerless Crystal Palace despite playing the final 25 minutes with 10 men after Mikel Arteta’s sending off.
Arteta put the leaders ahead from a penalty at the start of the second half but was sengt off for preventing a clear goalscoring opportunity when he tangled with former Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh 35 yards from goal.
Palace, with Keith Millen in caretaker charge after Ian Holloway’s departure, came close to recovering but could find no way past Wojciech Szczesny and a late second from Olivier Giroud sealed the win for Arsenal.
Everton were also 2-0 victors in their match at Aston Villa with Romelu Lukaku and Leon Osman scoring second-half goals.
Christian Benteke wasted a fine to give Villa the lead when his penalty was saved by Tim Howard and the Belgian’s misery was compounded when his compatriot Lukaku put Everton ahead in the 68th minute.
Osman then wrapped up the points with a second nine minutes from time.
Saturday’s other 3pm kick-off saw Norwich and Cardiff draw 0-0.
Norwich were dominant but found Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall in fine form to leave the Canaries in a precarious position with only Palace and Sunderland beneath them.
In the late game, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriquez both struck as Southampton produced a dominating display to see off a poor Fulham side 2-0.
Rodriquez set up the first for Lambert who then returned the favour as Saints extended their unbeaten run to seven games.