Newcastle on top again
By Graeme Bailey
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Leeds made a wonderful start as Alan Smith scored the quickest goal in The Premiership this season with a strike after just 25 seconds. The young England striker played a one-two with Mark Viduka and finished well from the edge of the area.
But Bobby Robson's Magpies showed the spirit they have been displaying all season and were back on level terms before half time, albeit in fortunate circumstances. The ever-dangerous Craig Bellamy created the danger and he crossed into the area and Michael Duberry could only deflect the ball past Nigel Martyn.
The second half saw Leeds on the back-foot and Newcastle took advantage when Kieron Dyer scored his first goal in more than a year as his left-footed shot left Martyn helpless.
Leeds' already difficult task was made even harder when England full back Danny Mills was rightly sent off for an impetuous kick on Bellamy after 69 minutes.
Following Mills's dismissal, Leeds were reduced to sporadic counter-attacks and Newcastle grabbed a deserved third when man-of-the-match Bellamy sealed a fine win with a lovely goal. He picked the ball up 30 yards out before skipping his way towards goal and slotting under Martyn.
With the majority of the top five playing on Sunday, Chelsea had the chance to close the gap, but they failed to overcome Bolton Wanderers at The Reebok Stadium - despite leading twice.
Former Wanderers striker Eidur Gudjohnsen gave his side the lead with a great finish after 57 minutes, but the home side were level just a minute later when the prolific Michael Ricketts rounded Carlo Cudicini to slot home his 14th goal of the season.
Chelsea then introduced Mikael Forssell on the hour mark and he rewarded his manager Claudio Ranieri with a goal with his second touch just minutes after entering the field of play. However, Bolton would not give up and grabbed a crucial and deserved point when Kevin Nolan saw his 84 minute strike deflected past Cudicini.
Aston Villa moved up to seventh the table as they overcame Midlands rivals Derby County 2-1 at Villa Park.
Darius Vassell lashed home the opener after 12 minutes, when he capitalised on a Juan Pablo Angel flick-on. Derby then got back on level terms when Peter Schmeichel failed to clear J-Lloyd Samuel's back pass and Malcolm Christie took advantage to set up Darryl Powell for the equaliser.
However, the game was turned on its head within three minutes as Francois Grenet was sent off for a professional foul and then, to make matters even worse for Colin Todd, Angel headed home Ian Taylor's cross just minutes later to seal all three points for Villa.
Blackburn Rovers dominated proceedings at Ewood Park, against Charlton, as they eased their way to a 4-1 win, with Andy Cole scoring on his home debut.
Turkish international Tugay gave his side the lead after just five minutes with a beautiful curling shot, a chance created by Cole, and then the former Rangers man returned the favour on the stroke of half time when he fed Cole in the area and he slotted home his first goal at Ewood Park in Blackburn colours.
Jason Euell continued his good form in the second half and scored after 55 minutes to give the away side hope, but Scott Parker's red card for a professional foul, just five minutes later, meant any chances The Addicks of getting back on level terms virtually disappeared.
Charlton's feint hopes were extinguished at the end when Craig Hignett (85) and Matt Jansen (89) both smashed home to give the scoreline a glossy finish.
Jesper Blomqvist's first goal for Everton was enough for The Toffees to take all three points over Sunderland at Goodison Park. Walter Smith's side were the better team, but it was always going to be very tight.
Blomqvist headed home only his second goal in English football after 27 minutes, following great work from Niclas Alexandersson, ironically the Swede's only over goal came at Goodison for Manchester United.
Fulham came from behind at Craven Cottage to grab a 2-1 win over Middlesbrough.
Colin Cooper - who replaced the suspended Franck Queudrue - had given Boro the lead after just eight minutes, but Fulham were not to be denied.
Louis Saha - who came on as a tactical substitute after just 35 minutes - grabbed the equaliser moments later, and then, just before the interval, he crossed for compatriot Steve Marlet to convert the winner.
George Burley's Ipswich Town moved above Derby into 18th as they beat Tottenham 2-1 at Portman Road. Marcus Bent headed home Mark Venus's vicious left footed corner after just 12 minutes, but Spurs came back well in the second half and grabbed an equaliser through Gustavo Poyet.
Sergei Rebrov spotted the Uruguayan bursting into the area and he played a great ball into his path and Poyet made sure with a cool finish past Andy Marshall.
But Town kept on probing Spurs and John McGreal, via Ledley King, headed past Neil Sullivan with just four minutes left to give the Suffolk side a massive win and complete the double over the North Londoners.
On what could be his swansong at Upton Park, Paolo Di Canio grabbed the headlines as his goal after 36 minutes was enough to give The Hammers all three points. The Italian was hanging around at the back post, when Joe Cole's shot was diverted into his path and he fired home to seal the win against relegation-haunted Leicester.
Click below for match summaries:
Aston Villa 2-1 Derby
Blackburn Rovers 4-1 Charlton
Bolton 2-2 Chelsea
Everton 1-0 Sunderland
Fulham 2-1 Middlesbrough
Ipswich 2-1 Tottenham
Newcastle 3-1 Leeds
West Ham 1-0 Leicester