Five-star Chelsea maul Swansea to surge clear
Brazil midfielder Oscar and Spain striker Diego Costa grabbed two apiece inside the opening 36 minutes.
LONDON - Chelsea ran riot at Swansea City by scoring four goals before halftime on the way to a 5-0 win that sent Jose Mourinho's side surging five points clear in the Premier League title race on Saturday.
Brazil midfielder Oscar and Spain striker Diego Costa grabbed two apiece inside the opening 36 minutes as Swansea were torn to shreds. Substitute Andre Schuerrle got his name on the scoresheet late in a more even second half.
"It was the perfect game, everything went in our direction," Mourinho, who will be hoping Arsenal can take points off second-placed champions Manchester City on Sunday, told Sky Sports.
Manchester United briefly climbed above Southampton into third spot, 12 points behind Chelsea, with second-half substitutes Marouane Fellaini and James Wilson on target in a 2-0 win at second-bottom Queens Park Rangers.
Ronald Koeman's Southampton again showed they cannot be dismissed as genuine contenders for a top-four finish when they won 2-1 at Newcastle United in the late kickoff.
On-loan Eljero Elia scored in each half for the Saints who have 42 points to United's 40.
Playmaker Christian Eriksen struck another late winner to give Tottenham Hotspur a seventh 2-1 league victory this season, at home to Sunderland, and lift them above Arsenal into fifth, three points behind United.
Seventh-placed Liverpool's upwards push gathered momentum when Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert scored in a 2-0 victory at Aston Villa who have now gone five league games without a goal.
Crystal Palace recovered from 2-0 down to snatch a 3-2 win at fellow strugglers Burnley, their second consecutive league victory since Alan Pardew took charge taking them up to 12th.
Bottom club Leicester City's recent burst of form, which had earned them seven points from three games, ended in a 1-0 home loss to Stoke City, Spaniard Bojan Krkic scoring the winner.
Swansea have proved tough opponents in south Wales since joining the Premier League in 2011 and had only suffered two home defeats this season, but they were no match for a rampant Chelsea side who oozed class.
From the moment Oscar ruthlessly punished an errant pass by Gylfi Sigurdsson to put Chelsea ahead in the first minute the writing was on the wall for the hosts.
A slick one-touch passing move ended with Costa making it 2-0 after 20 minutes and the Brazil-born Spaniard made it 3-0 following more dozy Swansea defending.
Oscar's second, a cheeky dink over busy Swans keeper Lukasz Fabianski, was followed quickly by Willian striking the crossbar as Chelsea threatened to run up a rugby score.
However, the fizz went out of the visitors in the second half and they had to be content with one more goal when Schuerrle got the final touch to deny Oscar a hat-trick.
As eye-catching as Chelsea's football was, pragmatist Mourinho said the most important thing was winning matches.
"There is no history without titles," he said. "If we play fantastically well but we don't win cups I think in 20 years' time nobody will remember this team.
"Everybody wants the team to play very well -- I am the first one -- but we have to win competitions."
Manchester United were unconvincing in the first half at QPR but improved after the break when Fellaini replaced Juan Mata and Wilson came on for injured defender Jonny Evans.
"It's a change in attack that brings lot of risk, but we have won 2-0 and I think it was deserved," Van Gaal said after United's third away win in the league this season.
With Chelsea and City clear at the top, United, Southampton, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool appear to be scrapping for third and fourth but modest Southampton, who beat United last week at Old Trafford, are undaunted.
"Maybe for everybody it was lovely to win at Old Trafford but maybe this win today is more important," manager Ronald Koeman said after his side's fifth victory in six matches.