Jay Rodriguez blasted two goals in six minutes to put Southampton in control at half-time in their Barclays Premier League clash with Cardiff to add to the woes of Malky Mackay.
The former Burnley striker took advantage of assists from fellow England men Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert to assert total authority for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Rodriguez then turned provider, returning the assist favour to head into the path of Lambert who fired home, to hand Southampton a commanding 3-0 lead at the break after Cardiff fans had mounted a pre-match protest against owner Vincent Tan and in support of manager Mackay.
Red cards for Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson left Stoke City exposed at the break with the score 1-1 at Newcastle.
The visitors took the lead when Oussama Assaidi slotted home, stunning Newcastle who were seeking to build on recent league wins over Manchester United and Crystal Palace.
But Whelan walked for a second bookable offence, his two yellow cards coming in the space of just six minutes.
And then defender Wilson’s professional foul on Newcastle striker Loic Remy earned him a dismissal to boot. Frenchman Remy missed the penalty.
But only moments later Newcastle attacked again, and Remy was able to atone with a finish after Hatem Ben Arfa’s pass.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard handed Everton an uphill struggle when he was sent off after just 23 minutes against Sunderland at Goodison Park.
The American stopper struggled to deal with Leon Osman’s undersold back-pass, and paid the price when he tripped Black Cats striker Sung-Yeung Ki.
Ki netted the resulting penalty, with Joel Robles unable to stop Sunderland taking the lead after replacing Osman.
Sunderland took an unlikely 1-0 lead into the break.
Gary Hooper’s seventh league goal of the season and fourth in successive home games handed Norwich a 1-0 lead after 13 minutes against Fulham at Carrow Road.
But Pajtim Kasami placed a free kick into the bottom right of the Norwich goal to bring Fulham back on terms just past the half-hour mark, leaving the scores locked at 1-1 at half-time.
Jose Mourinho kept his promise to mix up selection for Chelsea’s home clash against Swansea, restoring Ashley Cole at left back.
And the England defender promptly repaid that call by laying on the pass that allowed Eden Hazard to score to hand Chelsea a 1-0 half-time advantage.
Tottenham’s first-half lead lasted just two minutes in Tim Sherwood’s first match in full charge of Spurs.
Christian Eriksen put the home side ahead, but Spurs were pegged back by Jonas Olsson’s goal after 38 minutes, with the sides tied at 1-1 at half-time.
Aston Villa and Crystal Palace were deadlocked in a gritty 0-0 stalemate at the break at Villa Park, while Arsenal were unable to break the deadlock at West Ham either, with that Upton Park clash also tied 0-0.
It had been a dream start but a nightmare finish for Hull City defender James Chester in the day’s lunch time kick-off, scoring at both ends in Hull’s agonising 3-2 defeat.
Chester and David Meyler handed Steve Bruce’s side a 2-0 lead after just 13 minutes at the KC Stadium.
But if former United defender Bruce started to sniff a first-ever victory over his old club, any such thoughts vanished thanks to quickfire goals from Chris Smalling and Wayne Rooney.
Rooney’s 150th Premier League goal for United levelled the game before the half-hour mark.
So the scores stayed locked until midway through the second half, when Chester put through his own net.
United held out for the victory.