Football: Brighton sink QPR to take top spot

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LONDON: Brighton claimed top spot in the Championship with an emphatic 3-0 win over 10-man QPR at the Amex Stadium on Wednesday.
Chris Hughton s team moved above previous leaders Newcastle, who were beaten by Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday, thanks to goals from Sam Baldock, Glenn Murray and Anthony Knockaert.
Brighton are now two points above second placed Newcastle and eight ahead of third placed Reading in the race for automatic promotion to the Premier League.
The Seagulls, beaten in last season s play-off semi-finals, have won their last four matches and are unbeaten in 17 league games.
Struggling Rangers, reduced to 10 men early in the second half when captain Nedum Onuoha was sent off, have now lost their last six matches and failed to score in five of them.
Brighton made the perfect start before a crowd of 30,176 when Baldock put them ahead with a powerful finish after 11 minutes.
The hosts doubled their lead eight minutes after the interval when top scorer Murray notched his 15th goal of the season with a penalty after Massimo Luongo s reckless challenge on Dale Stephens.
Rangers were reduced to 10 men on 56 minutes when Onuoha received a straight red card for bringing down Baldock.
Knockaert made it three in the 69th minute with a low left-footed strike and celebrated by holding aloft a picture of his late father Patrick, who passed away recently.
In the day s other match, Derby beat Birmingham 1-0 to close within one point of the play-off places.
Steve McClaren s side struck in the 64th minute when Michael Morrison conceded a penalty with a foul on Richard Keogh and former Tottenham striker Darren Bent stepped up to convert the spot-kick.
Derby s eighth win in their last nine matches condemned new Birmingham manager Gianfranco Zola to a second successive defeat.