On a night when Manchester United tightened their grip on the Premier League crown with a 2-1 win at Newcastle, Aston Villa's UEFA Champions League dream floundered at Manchester City and Tottenham turned on the style in dismantling Middlesbrough at White Hart Lane.
Stoke City's 2-0 win over Bolton takes them out of the drop zone at the expense of Blackburn, who could not be separated from Everton in what was a forgettable goalless draw at Ewood Park.
At Craven Cottage the form book was turned on its head as Hull City claimed a last gasp victory over Fulham courtesy of substitute Manucho's dramatic contribution.
West Ham's bid to secure European football gathered pace at Wigan as Carlton Cole experienced the proverbial mixed evening, in scoring the game's only goal before being dismissed before half-time.
Prior to United's trip to St James' Park on an icy North East night, Edwin van der Sar had not been beaten in the league since early November when Samir Nasri dispatched a brace at the Emirates.
The goal that ended a run of 1,311 minutes without conceding will not cover the Dutchman in glory. Newcastle's lively winger Jonas Gutierrez hit an 11th minute shot that had neither zip nor venom but after flapping the Argentine's effort horribly, Peter Lovenkrands was on hand to prod home from close range.
Newcastle's football was bright and inventive as Obafemi Martins fired into the side netting, before United upped the ante and levelled on the 20 minute mark as Wayne Rooney bamboozled Fabricio Coloccini with an exquisite touch with his right, before firing past Steve Harper with his left - via a slight deflection off Steven Taylor.
An entertaining contest was settled in the 56th minute when Park Ji-sung capitalised on a terrible Ryan Taylor error to sneak in front of Harper and roll the ball into the path of Berbatov, who had the simple task of tapping home.
The result leaves Manchester United seven points clear at the summit, with Sir Alex Ferguson's side having a game in hand on both Chelsea and Liverpool.
Manchester City were entirely dominant at Eastlands in the first half as Aston Villa looked like a side whose congested fixture list is catching up with them.
Elano's 24th minute penalty, awarded after James Milner brought down Shaun Wright-Phillips, was no less than a Robinho-less City deserved.
Villa improved slightly after the interval but City made sure of the spoils at the death, when an exquisite one-two saw Stephen Ireland play in Wright-Phillips for a deserved second.
At White Hart Lane Tottenham showed no Carling Cup hangover in thumping Middlesbrough 4-0, but on this showing Gareth Southgate could need a drink soon.
A combination of Tottenham's fluency in attack and Boro's lack of coherence at the back saw the home side cruising at the break as Robbie Keane, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Aaron Lennon all etched their names on the scoresheet.
Keane opened the floodgates as he poked home Michael Dawson's flick-on from a corner, before Luka Modric's delivery from the right proved inch-perfect for Pavlyuchenko no more than a few yards from goal.
With Boro ragged it was left for Lennon to beat Brad Jones at his near post from Keane's cute pass. And it was the same two that combined after half-time, as the England winger dinked home a sumptuous fourth.
James Beattie is a striker at the top of his game as his fifth goal in seven matches put Stoke City ahead at the Britannia Stadium in the 14th minute. Glenn Whelan's looping header dissected a Bolton backline poorly positioned and with an unnerving finish, the one-time England cap beat Jussi Jaaskelainen.
With Stoke buoyant in playing a typically high-tempo game, Ricardo Fuller secured a maximum haul when he stepped from the substitutes' bench to rifle home from close range after Jaaskelainen had parried Whelan's jackhammer of a strike from range.
Carlton Cole's goal for West Ham embodied everything Gianfranco Zola has attempted to drill into his players, with a fine passing move culminating in the England man beating Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland with an excellent finish from David Di Michele's sublime touch.
It was, though, a mixed night for Cole as his participation stretched to just another three minutes. A second yellow card, for a high challenge on Emmerson Boyce, brought down a curtain on his evening in the 37th minute.
The Hammers were not at a numerical disadvantage for long though, as Lee Cattermole showed a recklessness that will infuriate his manager Steve Bruce in going through the back of Scott Parker and receiving his marching orders in the 52nd minute.
Blackburn's draw with Everton sees them drop into the bottom three, with Jason Roberts squandering the game's best chance in the second half of what was an instantly forgettable game.
Hull City had to weather Fulham pressure for long spells in West London but in the final minute Phil Brown was the manager left smiling after Richard Garcia's cross from the left was stabbed in by fellow sub Manucho.