(photo credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed)
Portsmouth continued its resurgence under Avraham Grant on Saturday, claiming an impressive 2-0 victory over Liverpool at Fratton Park.
Nadir Belhadj and Frederic Piquionne fired home angled shots as Portsmouth stunned 10-man Liverpool to Grant's delight.
"We played well," said Grant. "We scored two goals and continued on from our good performance at Chelsea. It's not easy to play against players like Torres, Gerrard and Benayoun. They're clever players who know what to do with and without the ball but our team did a good job on them. From game to game, we are looking better as a team which is good for us."
Meanwhile, Manchester City fired manager Mark Hughes, Fulham swept to a stunning 3-0 victory over Manchester United on a day of shocks in the Premier League on Saturday.
At Portsmouth, Algerian international Belhadj struck the first in the 33rd minute in his first league start for three months, before Liverpool's Javier Mascherano was sent off for an ugly foul on Israeli international Tal Ben Haim shortly before half-time.
Piquionne added the second in the 82nd to improve Portsmouth's chances of avoiding relegation. It was Liverpool's seventh league loss from 18 games and the defeat pushed the Reds further out of title contention.
"It's important that we took the points and have closed the gap on the sides above us," Grant said. "It will be good to get off the bottom but it's more important that we are out of the bottom three at the end of May. It's a long way away but I believe we can do it." Although Man City beat Sunderland 4-3 to climb to sixth in the standings, it announced less than two hours after the game that Hughes had been sacked and replaced by former Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini who will be unveiled as the new manager on Monday.
"A return of two wins in 11 Premier League games is clearly not in line with the targets that were agreed and set," chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said.
Hughes' departure was despite the victory over Sunderland with Roque Santa Cruz scoring twice after he had left Robinho and Emmanuel Adebayor on the bench. City, which lost 3-0 at Tottenham on Wednesday, now has 29 points from 17 games, 11 fewer than leader Chelsea which has 40 and visits West Ham on Sunday.
Danny Murphy, Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff punished United's makeshift defense at Craven Cottage and denied the defending champion any chance of drawing level on points with leader Chelsea.
United's fifth loss of the season could now leave the team six points off the pace if Chelsea wins at Upton Park.
Murphy dispossessed United's Paul Scholes and shot Fulham into the lead in the 22nd minute from 30 meters out and the second half was only seconds old when Zamora fired home after Clint Dempsey's headed pass.
Duff added the third with a left foot volley in the 75th minute against a United defense which was missing four central defenders through injury.
Arsenal outplayed Hull 3-0 to stay in third place and move within two points of second place Man United with a game in hand.
Goals by Denilson, Eduardo da Silva and Abou Diaby settled a game that had a first half flareup with several players pushing each other after a challenge by Samir Nasri on Hull's Richard Garcia.
Hull should have equalized when 1-0 down but Geovanni's penalty was blocked by Manuel Almunia and, when three teammates went for the rebound, Stephen Hunt headed wide of the net.
Two goals by Peter Crouch steered Tottenham to a 2-0 victory at Blackburn and substitute John Carew gave Aston Villa a 1-0 victory over Stoke, a fifth straight win for Martin O'Neill's team which remained level on points with Arsenal.
Also on Sunday, Everton faces Birmingham and Burnley goes to Wolves and, on Monday, Wigan hosts Bolton.