Glenn Murray scored a hat-trick as Brighton & Hove Albion were in sensational form to thrash Norwich City 5-0 at the Amex this afternoon.
The Seagulls remain second in the Championship table but are now four points ahead of the Canaries, who stay fourth.
Albion took the lead after just seven minutes when a mistake by Norwich keeper Michael McGovern gifted Murray his seventh goal of the season.
Northern Ireland international McGovern’s heavy touch from a backpass allowed Murray to outmuscle the stopper and tap into the empty net from ten yards.
It was the 12th successive Championship game in which Norwich have conceded, while the main other talking point of the opening 45 minutes was a clash between Norwich left-back Martin Olsson and Murray.
They came head-to-head after Olsson fouled Murray on the touchline and both were booked, with the Norwich player then escaping further punishment for tripping Jiri Skalak shortly afterwards.
Sam Baldock curled a shot from 20 yards straight at McGovern as Brighton broke quickly on 43 minutes as an even first half ended with the hosts a goal to the good.
Norwich made a lively start to the second half but it was Albion who went closest to adding to the scoreline on 54 minutes when Anthony Knockaert skipped past three players down the right and then fired just wide from close range.
Brighton did double their lead on the hour when Wes Hoolahan gave the ball away in midfield and Albion quickly broke forward. Gaetan Bong fed Skalak down the left and he crossed for Murray to head home at the back post.
Albion keeper David Stockdale was quickly called into action to keep out Hoolahan’s curling effort, before Brighton went 3-0 ahead on 64 minutes.
Skalak was again the provider as his corner was headed home by defender Lewis Dunk at the back post, with McGovern in no man’s land.
Murray then completed his first Albion hat-trick since New Year’s Day, 2011, on 73 minutes when Ryan Bennett was unable to deal with McGovern’s poor kick and Murray won possession and raced through to fire home.
Knockaert then added gloss to the scoreline when he got through on goal and coolly dinked the ball home as Albion sent out an emphatic message to their Championship rivals of their intent this season.
BRIGHTON: Stockdale; Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Bong; Knockaert (Murphy 90), Stephens, Sidwell, Skalak; Baldock (Norwood 78), Murray (Hemed 75). Subs: Maenpaa, Huenemeier, Goldson, Manu.
NORWICH: McGovern; Olsson, Dorrans, Martin, Jerome, Hoolahan (Naismith 75), Klose, Pritchard (Brady 75), Jacob Murphy (Oliveira 67), Bennett, Tettey. Subs: Ruddy, Bassong, Josh Murphy, Thompson.
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