Murray puts Brighton within reach of EPL

LONDON: Brighton moved within touching distance of promotion to the Premier League as Glenn Murray fired the Championship leaders to a 2-1 win at QPR on Friday. Murray put Brighton ahead after the interval at Loftus Road and Sebastian Pocognoli added the visitors’ second. Matt Smith got one back for QPR but the Seagulls held on to move two points clear of Newcastle, who play their game in hand at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. Brighton, with five games left, are 12 points clear of third placed Huddersfield, who have two games in hand, as the race for automatic promotion reaches the final furlong.

Chris Hughton’s side, beaten in the play-off semifinals last season, are hoping to reach the top-flight for the first time since 1982-83. Brighton cranked up the pressure after the interval and the goal they had been threatening arrived in the 58th minute when Murray played a clever one-two with Tomer Hemed and raced through on goal. Goalkeeper Alex Smithies came out to block Murray, but the striker kept cool to lash home his 21st Championship goal of the season. Five minutes later Murray was tripped on the edge of the area and Pocognoli, on loan from West Bromwich Albion, curled a fine free-kick in off the crossbar. Ian Holloway’s team reduced the deficit in the 74th minute when Smith headed in from a corner. — AFP