Brilliant Suarez sizzles for Liverpool

Luis Suarez scored a brilliant hat-trick as Liverpool thrashed West Brom 4-1 to keep on the coat-tails of BPL leaders Arsenal.

Luis Suarez of Liverpool

Arsenal briefly opened up a five-point lead over nearest challengers Liverpool and Chelsea after beating Crystal Palace 2-0 in Saturday's early kick-off, 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 as the Uruguayan continued his rich goalscoring form since returning to the Liverpool side.

West Brom pulled a goal back through James Morrison's penalty but Suarez's strike partner Daniel Sturridge chipped home a brilliant goal to wrap up the scoring 14 minutes from time.

It was nowhere near as comfortable for stuttering champions Manchester United up the road at Old Trafford as they survived a major scare to beat Stoke 3-2.

Having fallen 11 points adrift of top spot following Arsenal's victory, United could ill afford another off-day against a Stoke side without a win in their last five league games.

However, David Moyes' men, who have already lost three times in the league this season, suffered a nightmare start as Peter Crouch's close-range finish put the visitors ahead after just four minutes.

Robin van Persie drew the teams level in the 43rd minute, but Stoke stunned the home side again by reclaiming the lead on the stroke of half-time through Marko Arnautovic's fine free-kick.

Two goals in the final 12 minutes from Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez saved United's blushes though as they come from behind to win.

Earlier on, Arsenal beat managerless Palace despite playing the final 25 minutes with a man less following Mikel Arteta's sending off.

Arteta put the leaders ahead from the penalty spot at the start of the second half but the Gunners captain was then handed his marching orders.

Referee Chris Foy deemed the Spaniard had prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity when he tangled with former Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh some 35 yards out from goal and showed him a straight red card.

Palace, for whom Keith Millen was in caretaker charge following Ian Holloway's departure this week, came close to getting back into the game 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 for the Toffees.

Christian Benteke spurned a gilt-edged chance to give an eighth-minute 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.

Southampton's rise continued with a comprehensive 2-0 defeat of Fulham as they moved up to third in the table.

Mauricio Pochettino's side dominated from the outset at St Mary's, with Fulham failing to muster a single shot in a first half in which headers from Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez put the hosts deservedly ahead.

Only Maarten Stekelenburg's fine form, the goal frame and bad luck prevented Saints racking up an even greater margin of victory, as they secured a sixth clean sheet of the campaign - a far cry from the 26 goals they had conceded at the same stage of last season.



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