Glenn Murray leads Brighton's five-goal rout of Norwich
Glenn Murray hit a superb hat-trick as second-placed Brighton opened a gap on the chasing pack with a 5-0 demolition of Norwich.
Lewis Dunk and Anthony Knockaert scored the other goals as the home side netted four times in the last 30 minutes before a season's best crowd of 29,469 at the Amex Stadium, earning a seventh league win in nine games.
Murray, on a season-long loan from Bournemouth, now boasts nine goals this term, all of them at the Amex.
Not only was this Brighton's biggest win of the season, they are also unbeaten in nine games and have kept clean sheets in seven of those matches
They trail leaders Newcastle by three points, but are in turn three points clear of third-placed Huddersfield.
Norwich fell behind in only the sixth minute when goalkeeper Michael McGovern made a mess of an attempted clearance and Murray pounced.
The striker went shoulder to shoulder with McGovern after a back-pass by Alex Tettey and the Norwich shot-stopper lost possession, allowing Murray to put the ball into the empty net off the post.
Norwich, who had won on their previous four visits to Brighton, managed their first attempt on goal when Wes Hoolahan dragged a shot wide from the edge of the area.
Murray and Norwich defender Martin Olsson received bookings from referee Andrew Madley following a flare-up in front of the fourth official.
The players confronted each other with their foreheads coming together, and Murray was dragged away by team-mate Shane Duffy before referee Madley showed two yellow cards.
Former Blackburn man Olsson later escaped further punishment when he brought down Jiri Skalak and the resulting free-kick from winger Knockaert was blocked.
Albion goalkeeper David Stockdale showed alertness by diving at full length to hold a dangerous ball in by Jacob Murphy.
Norwich midfielder Alex Pritchard, called up for only his second Championship start for the club, had a cross cleared by Gaetan Bong before Brighton threatened at the other end.
Murray put Sam Baldock clear in front of goal but the striker's right-footed shot was saved by McGovern.
Pritchard collected a booking for a foul on Duffy before putting a deflected shot wide for Norwich.
French winger Knockaert showed his class by cutting in dangerously from the wing and curling a delightful shot narrowly wide 10 minutes after the break.
Brighton doubled their lead on the hour when Murray headed his second at the far post after a sweeping move.
Bong released Skalak down the wing and his perfect cross was met with a downward header by Murray.
It got better for the Seagulls only four minutes later when central defender Dunk, back in the side following a one-match ban, rose at the far post to powerfully head home a corner by Skalak.
Murray completed his treble after 73 minutes with an opportunist strike, firing home from 10 yards after goalkeeper McGovern attempted to clear the ball into the path of Ryan Bennett.
Knockaert sealed the rout six minutes from time with a delightful dink over McGovern after being set up by Skalak.
Source : PA