LONDON: The irresistible Luis Suarez sent Liverpool top of the Premier League as he celebrated his new contract with two more goals in a 3-1 win over crisis-torn Cardiff at Anfield.
A day after signing a new long-term contract, reportedly worth £200,000 a week, he took his tally to 19 goals in 12 league games.
Suarez volleyed his first past keeper David Marshall in the 25th minute after a Jordan Henderson cross and, after setting up Raheem Sterling for No2 in the 42nd minute, he curled home a brilliant third right on half-time.
The Uruguayan has now scored 10 league goals in December alone, more than any player has ever managed in a single month.
Cardiff, with manager Malky Mackay a dignified presence on the touchline throughout in what is expected to be his last game in charge, pulled one back early in the second half through Jordon Mutch.
All match the away fans chanted the name of their manager, who has been asked to resign or be sacked by club owner Vincent Tan.
The win moved Liverpool, whose last league title came back in 1990, to the summit ahead of Arsenal who face Chelsea on Monday.
Manchester City moved second after recovering from throwing away a 2-0 half-time lead to win 4-2 at Fulham.
Yaya Toure’s brilliant free-kick and a Vincent Kompany goal put City in command at the break. But Kieran Richardson pulled one back five minutes after the restart and a farcical Kompany own goal, slicing the ball over the head of his goalkeeper Joe Hart, made it 2-2.
Jesus Navas spared his captain’s blushes with the third in the 78th minute before James Milner struck the killer fourth.
Manchester United claimed a fourth straight win in all competitions, 3-1 at home to struggling West Ham.
Danny Welbeck scored the first, his third in three games, before teenager Adnan Januzaj enhanced his reputation with a fine second before half-time. Ashley Young made it three with a thumping right-foot finish from just inside the area, with Carlton Cole claiming a Hammers consolation.
West Bromwich, in their first match since the departure of coach Steve Clarke, snatched a 1-1 draw at home to Hull. Jake Livermore’s first-half goal looked set to condemn the Baggies to another loss until substitute Matej Vydra levelled four minutes from time.
Newcastle continued their impressive campaign by winning 3-0 at Crystal Palace on strikes from Yohan Cabaye, Danny Gabbidon (own goal) and Hatem Ben Arfa (penalty).
Bottom side Sunderland were unable to take advantage of the defeats for their relegation rivals, being held goalless at home by Norwich. To add to their disappointment Sunderland had Wes Brown sent off (for the second time in a month) at the end.
Peter Crouch scored the 70th-minute winner as Stoke won 2-1 at home to Aston Villa in Saturday’s other game. Charlie Adam put the Potters ahead but Libor Kozak levelled.