Sam Baldock scored twice for the second consecutive home match as West Ham United, second in the Championship, won 3-2 against a Leicester City adjusting to life after Sven Goran Eriksson. Baldock headed in his first after 21 minutes, and a minute later Julien Faubert fired in the second. Andy King reduced the deficit before Baldock struck again. King hit back after 74 minutes to set up a nervy finish. No word on a new Leicester appointment, but Kevin Keegan, Huddersfield's Lee Clark, Celtic's Neil Lennon, a former Fox, Mark Hughes, and, perhaps more fancifully, Rafael Benitez and Carlo Ancelotti have been mentioned.
The Hammers manager, Sam Allardyce, said: "The quality of all our goals was pleasing. All three were earned rather than gifted."
London's other challengers, third-placed Crystal Palace, drew 0-0 at home with Reading, the Eagles perhaps distracted by an imminent Carling Cup quarter-final tie at Manchester United. Level with Palace are Derby County, who beat Portsmouth 3-1, and Hull City, sixth, who won 1-0 at Nottingham Forest, the Midlanders' first defeat under Steve Cotterill, late of Pompey.
Millwall's revival continued, Jay Simpson scoring twice in the 4-1 demolition of Ipswich Town.
Nicky Maynard's injury-time goal gave bottom club Bristol City a first win under their new manager, Derek McInnes, 2-1 at Barnsley, while Watford moved out of the bottom three after Marvin Sordell scored twice in the 3-2 defeat of Peterborough. Doncaster Rovers were joined in the bottom three by Coventry City after their 1-1 draw. Birmingham City drew with Brighton and Burnley beat Blackpool 3-1.
It was a momentous day in League One for 15-year-old Jordan Ibe, who equalised for Wycombe in their 2-1 home defeat by Sheffield Wednesday and ran to celebrate with his watching family. As a reward he was shown the yellow card by Christopher Sarginson, coldly upholding the letter of the law.
Lionel Messi ended a three-game goal drought in Spain by scoring three times as Barcelona beat Malaga 5-0. Gonzalo Higuain scored as Real Madrid went top with a 1-0 win at Real Sociedad. Villarreal, who face Manchester City in the Champions League, had a comfortable 2-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano. In France, Alou Diarra rescued Marseille, Arsenal's next opponents, with a late goal for a 3-2 win at Dijon, who had hit back from 2-0 down.
Second-half goals from Kyle Lafferty and a Nikica Jelavic penalty saw leaders Rangers win 2-1 at Aberdeen, but they had Steven Naismith carried off with a knee injury.