Inexplicable mistakes by Joe Hart and Gareth Barry gave Manchester City's title hopes a potentially decisive blow at Southampton.
After defeat to Sunderland at St Mary's, Saints boss Nigel Adkins but described the team's performance as 'uncharacteristically flat'.
QPR & Southampton had conceded 49 goals between them prior to the game and the hosts' defence was breached 23 minutes - thanks to Lambert.
Rickie Lambert's 35th-minute free-kick proved enough to seal a 2-1 win at St Mary's after an early opener from Jay Rodriguez had been cancelled out by a header from John Terry.
Chelsea's shock loss allowed Tottenham to leapfrog into third place with a 2-1 win at Swansea.
The Potters, who had not registered a Barclays Premier League victory since Boxing Day, were in control for virtually the entire contest and finally broke down their opponents' stubborn resistance in the 67th minute when Huth nodded home a Glenn Whelan corner.
Substitute Jerome then cracked the ball in with nine minutes of normal time remaining having taken the ball down neatly and turned his marker. Adrian Mariappa pulled one back with a header two minutes later.
The Royals - who have scored a host of important late goals in recent weeks in an unbeaten sequence of four league games - could not complete a last-gasp fightback on this occasion. They remain 17th in the table, two points clear of the relegation zone, while Stoke stay 10th.
Fans and players were left stunned by Nigel Adkins' departure, with the team having lost only two of their last 12 league matches. Players were told on Friday morning by the captain, Adam Lallana. They now have to put the news behind them and win against Everton at home.
For those who want to get a breath of fresh air tomorrow and cheer off some Christmas excesses then there are tickets left for most of our football fixtures tomorrow. Full match coverage at on the ITV Sport website here. All 3pm kick-offs unless stated.
- Fulham v Southampton
- Reading v Swansea
- Leyton Orient v Swindon Town
- Bournemouth v Yeovil
- Portsmouth v Crawley Town
- Gillingham v Barnet (1 pm kick off)
- Aldershot v Bristol Rovers
- Exeter v Oxford United
Reading host Manchester United in tomorrow's late kick off. Both managers have been paying tribute to each other ahead of the game.
Sir Alex Ferguson is predicting a tough game and told reporters his opponents are improving all the time. Reading boss Brian McDermott says the 12-time Premier League champion offered him advice last season.