Manchester United got back to winning ways in the Premier League as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men saw off the threat of relegation-threatened Newcastle.
After managing just one victory in their previous five top-flight matches, Solskjaer felt Thursday’s 4-0 Europa League shellacking of Real Sociedad showed his side had got over their recent slump.
While they fell short of those standards on Sunday, second-half goals from Daniel James and Bruno Fernandes goals secured a 3-1 victory against embattled Newcastle after Allan Saint-Maximin had cancelled out Marcus Rashford’s fine opener.
The result moves United back into second and within 10 points of ruthless Manchester City, while defeat for Bruce at his old stomping ground leaves the 17th-placed Magpies perched just three points above resurgent Fulham.
The visitors started the brighter on Sunday evening and responded well to Rashford’s great solo opener as Saint-Maximin became the latest player to expose the Red Devils’ soft underbelly from set-pieces.
But James, who kept his starting role after impressing against Sociedad, fired the home side back ahead before Fernandes wrapped up victory from the penalty spot, with 17-year-old Shola Shoretire coming on for his first-team debut.
Raheem Sterling’s early goal earned Manchester City a 1-0 victory at Arsenal to stretch their winning run to 18 matches.
Sterling, one of the smallest players on the pitch, was allowed a free header on the edge of Arsenal’s six-yard box to convert Riyad Mahrez’s cross after only two minutes.
Yet despite getting off to the perfect start, City could not add to their lead as Arsenal slowly stemmed the flow of attacks.
The Gunners began to enjoy more possession but lacked the guile to test Ederson in the City goal.
Joao Cancelo should have wrapped up the points for the leaders with 10 minutes remaining but poked his effort wide.
It was not the most convincing display by Pep Guardiola’s side but nonetheless they strengthened their hold in the title race.
Leicester strengthened their grip on a Champions League spot with a stubborn 2-1 win at Aston Villa.
Quickfire first-half goals from James Maddison and Harvey Barnes moved the Foxes back into second in the Premier League ahead of Manchester United’s Sunday evening game with Newcastle.
Bertrand Traore pulled a goal back for the hosts but Leicester edged three points clear of United and have lost just once in their last 12 league games.
While leaders Manchester City, who won 1-0 at Arsenal, remain untroubled at the top, the Foxes look increasingly likely to return to the Champions League for the first time in four years after their heart-breaking final-day miss last season.
Villa were punished for an awful first half and without Jack Grealish, missing with a shin problem, lacked the quality, initiative and drive to recover.
Their problems ran deeper than their absent skipper, though, with Ross Barkley again underwhelming, and Dean Smith’s side have now won just three of their last 10 top-flight games to further dent their European hopes.
West Ham outlined their top-four credentials with a 2-1 win over an unravelling Tottenham, who lost for the fifth time in six Premier League games to leave Jose Mourinho feeling the pressure.
The Hammers climbed into fourth position thanks to goals from Michail Antonio and Jesse Lingard, giving them their highest ever points tally at this stage of the season in the Premier League era.
They are nine points above their London rivals and David Moyes celebrated his first win over Mourinho at the 16th time of asking after withstanding a late assault by Spurs, who gave themselves hope through Lucas Moura.
But Tottenham could not find a leveller, hitting the woodwork twice, and their demise has been stark as from a position at the top of the table in mid-December they have won just three of last 13 games, meaning their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League through the league are all-but over.
Mourinho will surely now focus his attention on winning the Europa League while he can also bank on a Carabao Cup final against Manchester City in April.