- Albion move top of the Sky Bet Championship
- Sam Baldock puts Brighton in front
- Glenn Murray (penalty) and Anthony Knockaert also on target
- Nedum Onuoha sent off in the second half
Brighton & Hove Albion moved to the top of the Sky Bet Championship table with a convincing 3-0 victory over ten-man Queens Park Rangers at the Amex Stadium.
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Glenn Murray’s penalty and a goal each from Sam Baldock and Anthony Knockaert were enough to overcome QPR, who had captain Nedum Onuoha sent off in the second half.
The result ensured the Seagulls went two points clear of Newcastle United at the top of the table at the halfway stage of the season following the Magpies’ 1-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day.
Chris Hughton made two changes to the side that beat Birmingham City ten days ago, as Oliver Norwood and Solly March replaced Steve Sidwell and Jiri Skalak.
Baldock broke the deadlock in the 11th minute when he showed some neat footwork - having latched on to a Dale Stephens pass - before firing an unstoppable left-footed strike beyond QPR keeper Alex Smithies.
Rangers created their first chance when Yeni Ngbakoto saw his close-range strike take a nick off Bruno before going wide.
The visitors came closer to levelling moments later, but David Stockdale made a strong two-handed save to keep out Massimo Luongo’s left-footed effort.
Albion then had a golden opportunity to double their advantage when Shane Duffy headed on Norwood’s searching corner towards Murray at the far post, but he headed wide.
The visitors still carried a threat though, as Pawel Wszolek pressed forward and found Idrissa Sylla, but the striker failed to test Stockdale with his shot.
Sylla was involved in the thick of the action again, but fired wide of the target from inside the box.
Brighton stepped up a gear towards the end of the half in a bid to double their advantage, as Stephens and Duffy both had chances to score.
Lewis Dunk and Baldock had a goalbound header each at the end of the first half, but both were blocked by the QPR defence.
Knockaert also came within inches of finding a second with a free-kick that skimmed the roof of the net in first-half stoppage time.
Albion began the second half with real vigour, as Knockaert fired a set piece over the bar, before March weaved his way into the box and saw his shot saved by Smithies.
But the lead was doubled from the spot after Stephens was brought down inside the box by Massimo Luongo and Murray smashed the ball home with Smithies rooted to his line.
It got from bad to worse for QPR when skipper Onuoha was shown a straight red card following a tussle with Baldock on the edge of the box.
The scoreline began to reflect Albion’s dominance when they added a third in the 69th minute; Knockaert cutting inside from the left before drilling his effort low past Smithies.
The Frenchman then paid an emotional tribute to his late father by lofting a photograph of him into the air.
Stockdale made a fine save to deny QPR a consolation goal by tipping over Sylla’s header at the near post from Jake Bidwell’s cross.
Tomer Hemed came on to replace Murray in the closing stages and almost got in on the act himself, but Smithies made a low save to keep out the Israeli international’s effort.
Dunk could’ve added extra gloss to the scoreline when he met Skalak’s corner at the far post, but his header went wide and the game finished 3-0.
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