Rickie Lambert's hat-trick at Vicarage Road took his season's Championship goal tally to 19 and saw Southampton reclaim top spot after their comfortable 3-0 defeat of Watford, who had Tomasz Kuszczak, on loan from Manchester United, in goal.
Previous leaders West Ham United, perhaps unaccustomed to playing with 11 men having seen red cards in their three previous matches, were booed off after being held to a goalless draw at Upton Park by a hard-working Crystal Palace. "It was not our best day," West Ham's manager, Sam Allardyce, agreed, "but the last three games, playing with 10 men, caught up with the lads. I might have made a mistake picking the same team. We didn't hit the heights we know we can."
A fifth consecutive win, 2-0 at Middlesbrough, Noel Hunt and Ian Harte scoring, saw Reading go third, four points behind West Ham, but Birmingham City slipped to fifth as their 11-match unbeaten run was ended by Nottingham Forest, Dexter Blackstock scoring their goals in their 2-1 away win. Fourth-placed Blackpool recovered from their midweek mauling by the Hammers, coming from behind to win 3-1 at Bristol City with Thomas Ince on target twice.
Ashley Barnes's two goals were the highlight of Brighton's 3-0 home win over Ipswich Town, taking the Seagulls to the edge of the play-offs, but Millwall dented Burnley's hopes of joining that debate when Andy Keogh, Josh Wright and Harry Kane scored in the Lions' 3-1 victory at Turf Moor.
At the bottom, Doncaster Rovers were deprived of a rare win when Peterborough United's record signing, Tyrone Barnett, late of Crawley, scored in the 90th minute to earn Posh a 1-1 draw, but Coventry City's escape is still on after Clive Platt's 90th-minute header earned a 1-0 win over Barnsley. "This could be a season-changing game for us," the Sky Blues manager, Andy Thorn, said.
Two new managers were on duty as Simon Grayson's Huddersfield Town beat Exeter City 2-0 while Jonathan Forte's late goal saw Notts County win their first match under Keith Curle, 1-0 against Chesterfield. Leaders Charlton Athletic have a 10-point lead after beating Stevenage 2-0.
Two first-half goals by Paul Benson gave leaders Swindon Town a 2-0 win over Accrington Stanley and a club record ninth consecutive victory.
Goalline technology was agqin the talking point as Juventus snatched a late goal through substitute Alessandro Matri to draw 1-1 at Milan in Serie A's top-of-the-table clash.
Milan, who went ahead through Antonio Nocerino after 14 minutes, should have quickly made it 2-0 but when Sulley Muntari's header appeared to cross the line, the referee waved play on. Television replays showed the ball was well over the line before keeper Gianluigi Buffon clawed it away.