Championship
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Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 Birmingham City

Glenn Murray celebrates his goal with teammates
Glenn Murray repeated his own feat, as the first player to hit 20 goals for Brighton in a season since 2010-11

Brighton & Hove Albion moved two points clear of Newcastle at the top of the Championship with a routine home win against strugglers Birmingham City.

Glenn Murray's 20th goal of the season put Albion ahead on two minutes, turning in Bruno's cross on the run.

Birmingham frustrated the hosts for the rest of the half, but Tomer Hemed chested in a second early on after the break to ease the pressure.

Uwe Hunemeier's fierce shot made it three, before Che Adam's consolation.

With nearest rivals Newcastle and fellow challengers Huddersfield not in action until Wednesday, the onus was on Brighton to get a confidence-building head-start.

Birmingham, without a win in five but having drawn the past three, saw any plans to hold Brighton blown away as the hosts' slick move teed up Murray for his landmark goal.

However, the Seagulls then seemed to fall back to the irritation of the expectant support while Craig Gardner's set-pieces appeared Birmingham's best hope, particularly when one curling effort brushed the woodwork.

Lewis Dunk's withdrawal through sickness in the first-half added to the concerns, but his team-mates shook off any of their own issues in his absence with two vital strikes shortly after the break.

Hemed's finish, his first in six matches, had The Amex rocking again and when Hunemeier smashed in, it was game over.

A smart move down the right gave Adams a rare opening to beat David Stockdale from inside the box with five minutes to go for a Birmingham consolation.

Brighton have a 10-point cushion to Reading in third with six matches remaining as they look for a return to the top flight for the first time since 1983.

Brighton manager Chris Hughton told BBC Sussex: "It was certainly scrappy, the fact we got the early goal normally motivates a team to go on but then we had a difficult period where we rested on that one goal, and you can't afford to do that against anybody.

"I was agitated in that first half, we needed to be more like ourselves. Fortunately we worked better in that second half and took our moments when we needed to do.

"Glenn is one who will always score, he has a knack, even when he's not playing well he gets in the right place at the right time.

"Our hard work has put us in the position [top of the league] but the last two games have shown us it can go either way. If you're not at the levels, it can go dramatically against you."

Birmingham City boss Gianfranco Zola told BBC WM: "It made the game really tough [conceding after two minutes]. We wanted to be defensively strong and wait for our moment to hit them on the counter, but it was a poor start.

"It was a poor start to the second half as well and it compromised the game. We had some good spells where we deserved our goal in the second half.

"But if you allow a team like Brighton to be in front then it comes difficult with the value of their team."

Line-ups

Brighton

  • 13Stockdale
  • 2BrunoBooked at 90mins
  • 4Hünemeier
  • 5DunkSubstituted forTomoriat 31'minutes
  • 3Bong
  • 11KnockaertBooked at 40minsSubstituted forMurphyat 64'minutes
  • 6StephensSubstituted forNorwoodat 77'minutes
  • 7Kayal
  • 20March
  • 10Hemed
  • 17Murray

Substitutes

  • 1Mäenpää
  • 8Skalak
  • 14Sidwell
  • 15Murphy
  • 21Norwood
  • 27Tomori
  • 28Akpom

Birmingham

  • 29Kuszczak
  • 31Bielik
  • 5ShottonBooked at 73mins
  • 3Grounds
  • 2Nsue
  • 12GardnerSubstituted forFrei Koyunluat 55'minutes
  • 7TescheSubstituted forKieftenbeldat 69'minutes
  • 8Gleeson
  • 33Keita
  • 14Adams
  • 9DonaldsonSubstituted forMaghomaat 77'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Legzdins
  • 6Kieftenbeld
  • 15Jutkiewicz
  • 19Maghoma
  • 21Frei Koyunlu
  • 25Cogley
  • 26Davis
Referee:
Darren Bond
Attendance:
28,654

Match Stats

Home TeamBrightonAway TeamBirmingham
Possession
Home47%
Away53%
Shots
Home9
Away13
Shots on Target
Home3
Away3
Corners
Home3
Away8
Fouls
Home16
Away8

Live Text

Match ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 3, Birmingham City 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 3, Birmingham City 1.

Jacques Maghoma (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Oliver Norwood (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Booking

Bruno (Brighton and Hove Albion) is shown the yellow card.

Jacques Maghoma (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Jamie Murphy (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Kerim Frei (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Oliver Norwood (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Attempt saved. Maikel Kieftenbeld (Birmingham City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Che Adams.

Jamie Murphy (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Cheick Keita (Birmingham City).

Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Bruno.

Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Uwe Hünemeier.

Goal!

Goal! Brighton and Hove Albion 3, Birmingham City 1. Che Adams (Birmingham City) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jacques Maghoma.

Beram Kayal (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jonathan Grounds (Birmingham City).

Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Maikel Kieftenbeld.

Attempt blocked. Glenn Murray (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Attempt blocked. Tomer Hemed (Brighton and Hove Albion) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Bruno with a cross.

Attempt missed. Uwe Hünemeier (Brighton and Hove Albion) header from the left side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Oliver Norwood with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Stephen Gleeson.

Foul by Tomer Hemed (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Kerim Frei (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, Birmingham City. Jacques Maghoma replaces Clayton Donaldson.

Substitution

Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Oliver Norwood replaces Dale Stephens.

Booking

Ryan Shotton (Birmingham City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Dale Stephens (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Ryan Shotton (Birmingham City).

Offside, Birmingham City. Stephen Gleeson tries a through ball, but Kerim Frei is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, Birmingham City. Maikel Kieftenbeld replaces Robert Tesche.

Attempt missed. Che Adams (Birmingham City) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Jonathan Grounds.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Uwe Hünemeier (Brighton and Hove Albion) because of an injury.

Uwe Hünemeier (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Robert Tesche (Birmingham City).

Substitution

Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Jamie Murphy replaces Anthony Knockaert.

Foul by Glenn Murray (Brighton and Hove Albion).

Robert Tesche (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Dale Stephens.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Brighton40258767343383
2Newcastle39256872333981
3Reading40227115550573
4Huddersfield38225114744371
5Leeds402161352391369
6Sheff Wed401991251401166
7Fulham4017131069511864
8Preston4016131159481161
9Derby401611134640659
10Norwich39169146558757
11Aston Villa401512134239357
12Brentford40168166457756
13Barnsley401411155656053
14Cardiff401410165457-352
15Wolves39149165049151
16QPR40148184653-750
17Ipswich401116134248-649
18Birmingham401113164058-1846
19Burton391111174053-1344
20Nottm Forest40119205466-1242
21Bristol City40118215060-1041
22Blackburn40913184761-1440
23Wigan40810223249-1734
24Rotherham4045313390-5717
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