LONDON (AP) — With 10 goals in December alone, Luis Suarez has propelled Liverpool up the English Premier League and enhanced the team's title credentials with each game.
The Uruguayan striker had two goals Saturday in a 3-1 victory over Cardiff, and also set up Raheem Sterling's goal.
Liverpool moved top of the standings, for now, having finished seventh last season.
Manchester City was a point behind after winning 4-2 at Fulham, with substitutes Jesus Navas and James Milner scoring key goals after their team threw away a two-goal lead in heavy wind and rain at Craven Cottage.
Liverpool and City could be overtaken by Arsenal if the London club wins the derby against fourth-place Chelsea on Monday.
Manchester United remains outside of the top four in seventh place despite the champions beating West Ham 3-1. Goals from Danny Welbeck, Adnan Januzaj and Ashley Young ensured United made it two wins out of two after losing the previous two league games.
Newcastle remains two points ahead of United after winning 3-0 at Crystal Palace. In the day's other games, Stoke rose to 10th by beating Aston Villa 2-1, bottom-placed Sunderland drew 0-0 with Norwich, and managerless West Bromwich Albion was held to 1-1 by Hull.
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — American defender Steve Cherundolo made his first start of the season, playing the first 81 minutes in Hannover's 2-1 loss at Freiburg in the Bundesliga.
The right back, who turns 35 in February, had left knee surgery in February and returned for five games in April and May. Cherundolo, Hannover's captain, had another knee operation in August. He made his season debut as a 90th-minute substitute against Frankfurt on Dec. 1.
A member of the last three U.S. World Cup teams, Cherundolo hopes to reclaim the position for next year's tournament in Brazil. He was voted Friday to the U.S. Soccer Federation's All-Time Men's National Team Best XI as part of the governing body's 100th anniversary celebration.
In other games, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund both and Bayern Munich maintained its seven-point lead going into the winter break. The schedule resumes Jan. 24.
With Bayern in Morocco winning the Club World Cup, Leverkusen and Dortmund could have gained ground on the undefeated leader. But Leverkusen lost 1-0 at Werder Bremen and Dortmund 2-1 at home to Hertha Berlin.
American forward Aron Johannsson scored in 40th minute of 5-1 home loss to visiting Heerenveen.
Johannsson, a 23-year-oldw who hopes to make the U.S. World Cup team, has 11 league goals this season and 18 in all competitions.
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Diego Costa scored twice to help Atletico Madrid come back to beat feisty Levante 3-2 and take a three-point lead over defending champion Barcelona in the Spanish league.
Barcelona plays Sunday at Getafe and will be without injured Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Victor Valdes, and suspended forward Neymar.
Diego Costa has a league-leading 19 goals, two ahead of Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.
MILAN (AP) — Napoli missed a chance to move even on points with second-place Roma as it was held to a 1-1 tie at Cagliari in Serie A.
Udinese picked up a valuable 2-1 win at fellow struggler Livorno in the final round of Italian league fixtures before the winter break.
PARIS (AP) — Saint-Etienne overcame a poor field to make up ground in the race for a European spot by defeating Nantes 2-0 in the French league on Saturday.
Saint-Etienne provisionally climbed to fourth place with a game in hand while Nantes slipped to sixth.
Reims beat Ajaccio 4-1 to go even on points with Nantes, Sochaux edged Rennes 2-1 to leave the last spot to Ajaccio, and Nice rallied past Evian 3-1 for a third straight win in all competitions. Montpellier extended its winless streak to 11 games in all competitions by drawing 0-0 with Bastia while Toulouse also split the points with Guingamp, in a goalless draw.