LONDON - Chelsea returned to the top of the Premier League with a 3-0 win at home to Stoke on Saturday in a timely boost ahead of their do-or-die Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain.
Jose Mourinho's side bounced back from their 3-1 midweek quarter-final first leg loss in Paris to move a point ahead of Liverpool, who will regain top spot if they avoid defeat away to West Ham on Sunday.
"I think the players played well," Mourinho told Sky Sports. "Normally after a defeat you don't start confidently but this team today went upwards all the time.
After the second goal the game was over." Egypt winger Mohamed Salah marked his first Premier League start by giving Chelsea, who welcome PSG on Tuesday, a 32nd minute lead at Stamford Bridge when he turned in Nemanja Matic's cut-back.
Salah then won a penalty after Andy Wilkinson's poor challenge and although Frank Lampard's 61st minute spot-kick was saved by Asmir Begovic, the veteran England midfielder followed up to make it 2-0.
Willian added a third goal with a curling shot in the 72nd minute. Manchester City maintained their title challenge with a 4-1 win at home to Southampton that left them two points off the summit and still with two games in hand over both Chelsea and Liverpool at the end of this weekend.
At Eastlands, Manchester City's Yaya Toure and Saints' Rickie Lambert both struck from the penalty spot before Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko scored in first-half stoppage-time to make it 3-1 to Manuel Pellegrini's men.
However, controversy surrounded Nasri's goal with David Silva, who played in the France midfielder, offside when he received the ball. City substitute Stevan Jovetic added a fourth goal in the 81st minute.
"I haven't seen it (City's second goal) yet but it is the referee (Chris Foy) who decides," said Pellegrini. "I don't think the difference between the two sides was just one goal."
Defeat was made worse for the Saints when Jay Rodriguez, one of their England strikers, went off with a first-half knee injury that put a huge question mark against his chances of being selected in Roy Hodgson's squad for this June's World Cup finals in Brazil.