Chelsea cemented their position on top of the Premier League as a superb double from Juan Mata clinched a 4-2 win over Andre Villas-Boas’s Tottenham on Saturday.
However, Wayne Rooney ensured Manchester United remain hot on the leaders’ heels with a 4-2 victory against Stoke in a game where the England star scored at both ends.
Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea side were in danger of suffering their first league defeat of the season at the hands of former boss Villas-Boas, who was sacked after just nine months in charge last season, as Tottenham took a 2-1 lead in the second half at White Hart Lane.
But Spanish midfielder Mata struck twice in the space of three minutes to secure Chelsea’s seventh win from eight league matches.
“We lost our control at the start of the second half but for the rest of the match we took the initiative and deserved the win,” said Di Matteo.
“It was a test of our character to come here and play a team in form in a big derby. There have been a lot of issues around the team recently, but we responded perfectly.”
Villas-Boas added: “Individual brilliance and the creativeness of Chelsea unlocked our defence and settled the game.”
Gary Cahill, deputising for the suspended John Terry, fired Chelsea ahead in the 17th minute with a powerful volley.
William Gallas equalised against his former club two minutes into the second half and Spurs went in front seven minutes later thanks to Jermain Defoe’s predatory finish.
However, Chelsea staged a stunning fightback as Mata scored twice in three minutes before setting up the fourth goal for Daniel Sturridge in stoppage-time.
At Old Trafford, Rooney went from zero to hero with a double strike after the United striker initially gave Stoke a shock lead in the 10th minute when he headed into his own net as he tried to clear from Ryan Shawcross.
Rooney was quickly back in United’s good books with a headed equaliser -- his first club goal of the season -- from Robin van Persie’s cross in the 27th minute.
Van Persie put United ahead on the stroke of half-time as the former Arsenal forward turned in Antonio Valencia’s cross to claim his eighth goal in 10 matches for his new club.
Danny Welbeck got United’s third with a diving header from Rooney’s cross in the 46th minute.
Michael Kightly’s solo effort reduced the deficit 12 minutes later, but Rooney sealed the win with his second goal in the 65th minute.
United manager Alex Ferguson said: “Most of the games at home this season we’ve had terrible starts. When we did get going we played some terrific football.
”I was pleased with the performance after the first 20 minutes.“
Edin Dzeko gave 10-man Manchester City a dramatic 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion as the Bosnian striker came off the bench to score twice in the last 10 minutes.
James Milner was sent off for chopping down Shane Long as the Albion striker burst clear in the 23rd minute.
Albion looked set to make the champions pay when Long converted Peter Odemwingie’s pass in the 67th minute.
But Dzeko rescued the champions’ unbeaten record with an 80th-minute header moments after coming on and then netted the winner in stoppage-time as City stay third, four points behind Chelsea.
City assistant manager David Platt said: ”It was tremendous how we stuck together in the second half and created so many chances.
“It’s a great fillip to win after playing for almost 70 minutes with 10 men.”
Arsenal crashed to a shock 1-0 defeat at Norwich as the Canaries claimed their first league win of the season -- and their first victory against the Gunners for 20 years -- to leave the visitors 10 points adrift of Chelsea.
Grant Holt got the only goal in the 20th minute when the burly striker converted the rebound after Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone spilled Alexander Tettey’s drive.
Raheem Sterling bagged his first Liverpool goal to clinch a 1-0 win over Reading that ended the Reds’ wait for a first home league success under boss Brendan Rodgers.
Liverpool got the only goal in the 29th minute when teenage winger Sterling finished off a Luis Suarez pass.
West Ham cruised to a 4-1 victory over Southampton at Upton Park, Swansea beat Wigan 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium and Fulham defeated Aston Villa 1-0 at Craven Cottage.
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