London (AFP) – Championship leaders Norwich are closing in on promotion to the Premier League after thrashing QPR 4-0, while Leeds crashed to a damaging 1-0 loss at Birmingham on Saturday.
Teemu Pukki’s brace plus goals by Emiliano Buendia and Marco Stiepermann sent Norwich seven points clear at the top.
The Canaries, who have now won eight successive league games, look odds-on to return to the top-flight after Leeds slumped to third place.
Birmingham’s top scorer Che Adams had gone six games without a goal, but he ended that run on the half-hour mark to give the hosts, who had lost five in a row, a first win since their nine-point deduction.
Sheffield United leapfrogged Leeds back into the top two with a 1-0 win over Preston.
David McGoldrick scored the only goal in the 31st minute at Deepdale to put the Blades one point clear of Leeds.
Fourth-placed West Bromwich Albion’s automatic promotion hopes were dealt a blow with a 2-0 defeat at struggling Millwall.
The Baggies had won three in a row but were behind when Ryan Tunnicliffe’s shot evaded Sam Johnstone’s weak attempted save.
Albion’s Jay Rodriguez fired a penalty wide in the second half and seven minutes later Ahmed Heghazi, who was later sent off, deflected Ben Thompson’s cross into his own goal.
Bristol City remain in the play-off places, despite Anthony Pilkington’s stoppage-time equaliser for Wigan in a 2-2 draw at Ashton Gate.
Aston Villa scored twice in stoppage time to make it six wins in a row and move up to fifth with a 3-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday.
Wednesday, unbeaten in 11 games since Steve Bruce took charge, were ahead after just seven minutes as Gary Hooper converted George Boyd’s cross before John McGinn’s fourth goal in his last four games levelled the scores.
Wednesday missed the chance to go ahead again from the spot as Steven Fletcher’s penalty was saved by Jed Steer after 57 minutes. And Albert Adomah and Tammy Abraham’s added-time strikes made the Owls pay the price.
Swansea piled the pressure on under-fire Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis with a 3-1 win at the Liberty Stadium.
A sixth successive defeat continued a slide which has seen Boro slip out of the play-off places.
Collin Quaner’s first-half double gave rock-bottom Ipswich a 2-1 win to leave Bolton eight points from safety.
Rotherham remain in the relegation zone but boosted their survival hopes with a 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest.
Hull extended their unbeaten home run to 11 matches with a 3-1 win against Reading, who are now just a point outside the bottom three.
Having drawn their last four matches 0-0, the first English side to do so since Arsenal in 2008-09, Stoke beat Blackburn 1-0 thanks to Peter Etebo’s first-half goal.
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