Premier League round-up
Vital wins for North East trio and fellow strugglers Reading
Kevin Keegan enjoyed his first win since returning to Newcastle United, Sunderland picked up three points away from home for the first time and Bolton Wanderers stay in the bottom three.
Reading won their six-pointer with Birmingham City, Middlesbrough edged past Derby County, Blackburn Rovers easily beat Wigan Athletic and Tottenham Hotspur left it late to overcome Portsmouth.
Everton's UEFA Champions League hopes suffered a blow as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by West Ham.
Mark Viduka and Michael Owen provided a relieved Keegan with a much-needed lift as Newcastle beat struggling Fulham 2-0.
Newcastle enjoyed a dream start in front of a bumper St James' Park crowd when Viduka turned smartly on the edge of the area and fired a low shot inside the far post for his first goal of 2008.
Obafemi Martins had a goal disallowed for offside before Owen made the points safe seven minutes from time when he met Geremi's free-kick unmarked to head beyond Kasey Keller.
Everton were looking to move level on points with Liverpool in the race for fourth place but were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw with West Ham.
Yakubu Aiyegbeni gave the Toffees the perfect start when he turned away from young defender James Tomkins to lash the ball beyond Rob Green in the eighth minute.
But Dean Ashton climbed to head the Hammers level from Lucas Neill's hanging cross after the break, with young substitute Freddie Sears hitting the post in the dying seconds.
Sunderland boosted their survival hopes with a first away win of the season as substitute Michael Chopra scored the only goal at Aston Villa.
Chopra, who netted Sunderland's first goal this season, came up with another important strike when he latched on to Kieran Richardson's pass to finish coolly beyond Scott Carson on 83 minutes.
Bolton Wanderers are stuck in the relegation zone after being held to a 0-0 draw by Manchester City at the Reebok Stadium.
The hosts came closest to scoring when Icelandic defender Gretar Steinsson headed a corner against the post in the first half.
Blackburn and Wigan both had a man sent off as Rovers battled to a 3-1 win at Ewood Park.
Blackburn were ahead on 12 minutes when Roque Santa Cruz stooped to head home his 13th Premier League goal of the season from close range after Chris Kirkland could only parry David Bentley's swerving shot.
But Wigan were level within five minutes after Blackburn defender Christopher Samba was sent off for a slight tug on Emile Heskey's shirt in the box, and Marlon King stepped up to equalise from the spot for his first goal for the club.
Rovers, though, were back in front in first-half injury-time when former Wigan striker Jason Roberts showed great skill on the edge of the area before slipping his shot through Kirkland's legs.
The home side continued to make light of their numerical disadvantage and scored a third goal on 63 minutes when Bentley curled in a cross from the left for the arriving Santa Cruz to head home at the far post.
Wigan's chances of a comeback took a further knock on 69 minutes when Wilson Palacios was sent off for a second bookable offence after bringing down David Dunn.
Reading climbed further away from trouble after Andre Bikey grabbed both goals in a 2-1 win over relegation rivals Birmingham City at the Madejski Stadium.
The Royals edged in front just past the half-hour mark when Bikey nipped in at the near post to glance John Oster's free-kick into the net.
Mauro Zarate pulled Birmingham level on 65 minutes when the Argentinian scored his first goal for the club after firing home from Mikael Forssell's pass.
But Blues were undone by Bikey again on 79 minutes after the Cameroon international darted in to meet Nicky Shorey's free-kick.
Darren Bent made a decisive impact from the substitutes' bench as Tottenham won 2-0 at home against Portsmouth.
Centre-half Michael Dawson rattled the crossbar in the first half for Spurs before Bent came on to fire Dimitar Berbatov's scuffed shot beyond David James with 10 minutes to go.
Just two minutes later, Bent turned provider as he played in a cross to supply Jamie O'Hara with a simple tap-in.
Middlesbrough inched ever closer to securing their Premier League status for next season after a 1-0 win at home to bottom club Derby.
Woeful Derby defending contributed to Boro's winning goal on 32 minutes when Tuncay Sanli collected George Boateng's inside pass and sauntered into the box before steering a low shot beyond the wrong-footed Roy Carroll.