Luis Suarez sent Liverpool top of the Barclays Premier League as he celebrated his bumper new deal with two more goals to help his side beat Cardiff at Anfield.
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A day after signing a new long-term contract, reportedly worth £200,000 a week, the Uruguayan took his tally to 19 goals in 12 league games this season to inspire the hosts to a 3-1 win.
Suarez volleyed his first past David Marshall in the 25th minute following an inviting Jordan Henderson cross and, after setting up Raheem Sterling for number two in the 42nd minute, he curled home a brilliant third on the stroke of half-time.
It meant Suarez has now scored 10 league goals in December alone, more than any player has ever managed in a single month.
Cardiff, with manager Malky Mackay a dignified presence on the touchline throughout in what is expected to be his last game in charge, pulled one back early in the second half through Jordon Mutch.
And the away fans chanted the name of their manager, who has been asked to resign or be sacked by club owner Vincent Tan, until the end.
The win moved Liverpool, whose last league title came back in 1990, to the summit ahead of Arsenal, with the Gunners taking on Chelsea on Monday.
Manchester City went second as they recovered from throwing away a 2-0 half-time lead to win 4-2 at Fulham.
Yaya Toure’s brilliant free-kick and a Vincent Kompany goal put City in command at the break.
But Kieran Richardson pulled one back five minutes after the restart and a comical Kompany own goal, slicing the ball over the head of his goalkeeper Joe Hart, made it 2-2.
Jesus Navas spared his captain’s blushes with the third in the 78th minute before James Milner got the killer fourth.
Manchester United claimed a fourth straight win in all competitions, 3-1 at home to struggling West Ham.
Danny Welbeck scored the first, his third in three games, before teenager Adnan Januzaj added to his burgeoning reputation with the second before half-time, bamboozling James Collins with a neat turn before shooting into the far corner.
Ashley Young made it three with a thumping right-foot finish from just inside the area, with Carlton Cole getting a consolation for the Hammers.
West Brom, in their first match since the departure of coach Steve Clarke, snatched a 1-1 draw at home to Hull.
Jake Livermore’s first-half goal looked set to condemn the Baggies to another loss until substitute Matej Vydra levelled four minutes from time.
Newcastle continued their impressive campaign by winning 3-0 at Crystal Palace, Yohan Cabaye, a Danny Gabbidon own goal and a late Hatem Ben Arfa penalty doing the damage.
All the best pictures from Saturday’s seven Premier League fixtures, starting with Liverpool’s clash with Cardiff.
Bottom side Sunderland were unable to take advantage of the defeats for their relegation rivals, though, as they were held to a 0-0 home draw by Norwich.
And to make matters worse the Black Cats had Wes Brown sent off at the death.
Peter Crouch scored the 70th-minute winner as Stoke won 2-1 at home to Aston Villa in Saturday’s other game.
Charlie Adam put the Potters ahead, but Libor Kozak levelled.