Newcastle United gained an important win at relegation rivals West Bromwich Albion to provide hospitalised manager Joe Kinnear with a pick-me-up.
Jo enjoyed an impressive debut as Everton beat Bolton Wanderers, while his parent club Manchester City overcame struggling Middlesbrough.
Sunderland pulled further clear of trouble after battling past 10-man Stoke City as Wigan Athletic and Fulham played out a scoreless draw.
Fernando Torres came off the bench to head Liverpool back to the top of Premier League pile after a thrilling 3-2 victory over luckless Portsmouth at Fratton Park.
Rafa Benitez started the game with a 5-3-2 formation as he left the likes of Torres, Dirk Kuyt and Xabi Alonso on the bench, although one of the replacements - Fabio Aurelio - came close with a free-kick which brushed the post in the first half.
An offside flag spared Ryan Babel's blushes when he missed the ball in front of an open goal before Pompey took the lead on 62 minutes.
Former Liverpool striker Peter Crouch slipped in David Nugent behind the defence and the in-form forward placed his shot beyond an exposed Jose Reina.
But Crouch then contributed to his old club's equaliser on 69 minutes as David James was forced to handle his poor back-pass and Aurelio smashed home the free-kick.
Yet Pompey regained the initiative on 78 minutes when Nadir Belhadj swung in a free-kick from the right and Hermann Hreidarsson guided his header past Reina, who should have done better.
More poor defending from Pompey allowed Liverpool to level for a second time on 85 minutes as Sylvain Distin failed to cut out a pass and, from Torres' pull-back, fellow substitute Kuyt blasted a shot inside James' near post.
And Liverpool boss Benitez will feel his selection decisions were justified when, in the second minute of stoppage-time, Yossi Benayoun clipped back a cross which Torres headed past James at the near post.
Hull City again thwarted a member of the 'big four' away from home after battling to a 0-0 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea should have been in front in the early stages, but John Terry lifted his shot over from close range before Tigers keeper Matt Duke produced a fine save to deny debutant Ricardo Quaresma.
Brave defending kept the Tigers on level terms and the visitors almost snatched a goal before half-time when Kevin Kilbane's header brushed the post.
The visitors had a golden chance to take the lead in the second half as Geovanni played in Dean Marney, but he dragged his shot just wide of the far post.
And moments later, Chelsea were denied a penalty when Salomon Kalou's well-struck shot hit the arm of Tigers full-back Andy Dawson.
Aston Villa moved above Chelsea into third in the table after inflicting a first defeat on Blackburn Rovers boss Sam Allardyce following a 2-0 win at Ewood Park.
Emile Heskey had a goal disallowed for a push on Chris Samba before Villa took the lead on 27 minutes through James Milner.
The Villa winger exchanged a short corner with Gareth Barry before cutting into the box and firing a left-footed shot across goal, which Morten Gamst Pedersen should probably have cleared at the far post.
Villa made the points safe in the final minute when Gabriel Agbonlahor, who had a goal disallowed for offside in the first half, saw his shot deflect past Paul Robinson after a poor clearance from Stephen Warnock.
Newcastle provided manager Joe Kinnear with a timely fillip after a 3-2 victory at West Brom in an entertaining encounter at the Hawthorns.
Kinnear was taken to hospital on the morning of the game after complaining of being unwell and it was left to assistant Chris Hughton to mastermind a vital win.
A blistering start at the Hawthorns saw three goals in the opening nine minutes with Newcastle in front after barely 60 seconds when Damien Duff slotted his shot through Scott Carson's legs after Leon Barnett had made a mess of cutting out Shola Amoebi's pass.
West Brom were level on four minutes as Marc-Antoine Fortune turned away from some limp defending by Steven Taylor before firing a low left-footed drive beyond Steve Harper.
But the Magpies were back in front on nine minutes when Peter Lovenkrands marked his first start for the club by guiding the ball home after Ryan Taylor's volley had ricocheted into his path.
Ryan Taylor was the architect of Newcastle's third goal on 41 minutes when he curled in a corner from the left and Steven Taylor squeezed his header inside the post.
The Baggies pulled a goal back on 73 minutes when substitute Felipe Teixeira slipped a pass into Fortune and he smashed his shot across Harper.
New signing Jo put a difficult start to life in the Premier League behind him with a brace as Everton beat Bolton 3-0 at Goodison Park.
Jo made a significant contribution on his Everton debut as he theatrically tumbled over Andy O'Brien's leg five minutes before half-time and Mikel Arteta made no mistake from the penalty spot.
Brazilian striker Jo, who has joined on loan from Man City, was in the thick of it again on 49 minutes as he brought a long ball under control, with the aid of a Bolton defender, and lashed a shot past the exposed Jussi Jaaskelainen.
And in the final minute, Jo slammed a penalty past Jaaskelainen after Bolton new boy Mark Davies was penalised for handling a cross.
Sunderland are now seven points clear of the relegation zone after a 2-0 win over Stoke at the Stadium of Light.
Injuries forced Stoke to make three substitutions inside the opening half-hour and the visitors then had a lucky escape before half-time.
Andy Reid chipped a cross to the far post where Steed Malbranque was waiting unmarked and his header was stopped on the line by Danny Pugh's arm, but neither the referee nor the linesman spotted the infringement which would have resulted in the Stoke substitute's dismissal.
Stoke were down to 10 men on 65 minutes when winger Matthew Etherington was sent off for kicking out at Danny Collins as the duo tussled for the ball.
And Sunderland capitalised 12 minutes from time when Reid swung in a deep cross to the far post which Jones headed down and inside the upright, with former Black Cats keeper Thomas Sorensen probably thinking he should have done better.
Jones created the second goal in injury-time as his cross-shot was tucked away at the far post by substitute David Healy for his first Premier League goal for the club.
Middlesbrough have now gone 13 games without a Premier League win after slipping to a 1-0 defeat at Manchester City.
Stephen Ireland was denied by the crossbar in the first half for City, while the hosts' new signing Shay Given thwarted Middlesbrough striker Afonso Alves on three separate occasions.
City made the decisive breakthrough six minutes into the second half when Craig Bellamy cut into the box from the right and flashed a low, left-footed drive beyond Brad Jones.
Boro's best chance of an equaliser fell at the feet of Alves again, but the Brazilian striker's curling effort from the edge of the box was turned away by the impressive Given.
Fulham are still awaiting their first away win of the season after claiming a 0-0 draw at Wigan in a game of few chances.