Brighton issued a further reminder of their promotion credentials with a convincing 3-0 home victory over Reading that returned them to the top of the Sky Bet Championship.
The Seagulls’ battle with Newcastle at the summit continues after United dropped home points in a 2-2 draw with Bristol City earlier on Saturday.
Goals from Sam Baldock, Jamie Murphy and Anthony Knockaert before a crowd of 29,613 later gave Albion the seventh win from their last eight home league games, also weakening Reading’s own automatic promotion hopes.
Brighton, six points beyond third-placed Huddersfield, are a point clear of Newcastle heading into Tuesday’s clash between the top two at the Amex Stadium.
Unchanged Brighton threatened in the sixth minute when Knockaert curled in a corner and record signing Shane Duffy came up from the back to head over at the far post.
Knockaert, clattered by Tyler Blackett in the opening seconds, had started brightly and ended a dazzling run by firing over.
French winger Knockaert again rattled the Royals with a surging run and his cross was directed wide of goal by skipper Bruno on the edge of the area.
Knockaert later had a shot blocked after a poor clearance from keeper Ali Al Habsi, a former Brighton loanee.
Brighton, who have not lost in 20 games when Dale Stephens has been in their starting line-up this season, saw the former Charlton man booked for a late tackle on Yann Kermorgant on 29 minutes.
Striker Baldock then almost gave the Seagulls the lead with a curling right-footed shot which struck the outside of Al Habsi’s left-hand post.
Brighton keeper David Stockdale made two saves in as many minutes by keeping out efforts from Danny Williams and Roy Beerens before Baldock opened the scoring 10 minutes before the break.
Not since 1979 have Brighton had four different players reach double figures and Baldock joined Glenn Murray, Tomer Hemed and Knockaert’s club with a close-range finish.
The former Bristol City marksman latched onto an excellent cross from Bruno and let the ball bounce before firing it beyond Al Habsi.
Reading came under further pressure before the break and Al Habsi kept out a low effort from Knockaert at his near post.
The Royals threatened twice in quick succession through Beerens and Williams before Murphy doubled Brighton’s advantage on 56 minutes.
The former Sheffield United winger ran through to delightfully chip Al Habsi after being put through by Stephens.
Murphy was well placed again four minutes later but passed unselfishly to Knockaert who fired into the side netting.
Reading substitute John Swift and defender Chris Gunter were both off target before Knockaert sealed Brighton’s victory 10 minutes from time after a strong run through the middle by Murphy.