Newcastle United seized control of the battle for fourth place in the Premier League on Saturday as Tottenham and Chelsea stumbled in the race for a Champions League qualifying berth.
Two goals from Yohan Cabaye and one from Papiss Cisse gave Newcastle a 3-0 win over Stoke City at St James’ Park, a result that saw the Magpies move up to fourth place with four games remaining.
With Tottenham slipping to a 1-0 defeat against -relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea only managing a 0-0 draw at Arsenal, Newcastle’s hopes of a Champions League spot is in their own hands.
The Magpies lead fifth-placed Spurs by three points having played the same number of games, while Chelsea are languishing in sixth, four points adrift.
Tottenham could have finished the day in fourth, but their miserable recent run of league form continued as they slipped to a 1-0 loss to 10-man QPR at Loftus Road.
Adel Taarabt scored the game’s only goal with a 24th-minute free-kick before being sent off late in the game after a second bookable offense.
Earlier, Chelsea’s bid for Europe suffered a setback with their failure to beat Arsenal at the Emirates.
Nevertheless, Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo was satisfied with the result, which came after a grueling week that included victory over Spurs in the FA Cup before a hard-fought win in their Champions League semi-final first leg with Barcelona.
Wigan Athletic’s hopes of pulling clear of the relegation zone suffered a setback as they lost 2-1 at Fulham, Philippe Senderos scoring an 89th-minute winner to sink the Latics at Craven Cottage.
Senderos’ winner came after Wigan had taken the lead through Emmerson Boyce on 57 minutes, before Pavel Pogrebnyak got Fulham back on level terms.
Blackburn Rovers ended a run of five consecutive defeats to score a 2-0 win over Norwich City at Ewood Park.
The win left Rovers third from bottom, three points adrift of Wigan in 17th place and QPR in 16th, who both have 34 points.
Mauro Formica and Junior Hoilett scored the goals for Rovers as Steve Kean’s side gave themselves a Premier League lifeline.
Meanwhile, Bolton Wanderers remain in the bottom three after being held 1-1 by Swansea at the Reebok Stadium.
Scott Sinclair put Swansea ahead after only six minutes, curling his shot into the far corner after cutting in from the left flank, before Chris Eagles leveled in the 14th minute.
In the other match on Saturday, Aston Villa and Sunderland played out a 0-0 draw at Villa Park.