Poyet looking up as Brighton storm to the summit

Brighton & Hove Albion 3 Sheffield Wednesday 0

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The Independent Football

Gustavo Poyet, the Brighton manager, believes that the Championship play-offs are within his team's reach this season and on last night's evidence it is hard to disagree.

Brighton were in rampant form as their third successive victory took them to the top of the table in front of their biggest crowd since 1983.

"If it brings expectations, we'll take it," Poyet said. "I'm not afraid to say that we're better than last year, we have more options, and we're going to be higher than 10th [their finishing position last season]. How high depends on our consistency."

Promoted Sheffield Wednesday would have claimed first place themselves had they won, but that never looked likely as they went down to a second successive defeat after being unbeaten in 18 matches since Dave Jones took over in March.

Jones pointed out that there was a touch of fortune about Brighton's first goal, after 24 minutes, as Wayne Bridge's shot from 20 yards following a free-kick was deflected past the wrong-footed Chris Kirkland by Jermaine Johnson. But there was nothing lucky about the two goals early in the second half that settled the match.

After 54 minutes Bruno, the former Valencia right-back, dribbled in from the right and rolled the ball along the six-yard line for Craig Mackail-Smith to stab home his fifth goal in three games. Four minutes later it was 3-0, with Bruno again the creator, this time flighting a long diagonal pass into the run of Will Buckley, who took a touch before lifting his shot over Kirkland.

Brighton's tempo slowed as Poyet put on three of his deadline-day signings on, but Wednesday could not profit. "We are a work in progress and maybe one or two players need to come back to earth," Jones said.

In the evening's other Championship match, Crystal Palace survived a late rally from Charlton to win 1-0 at The Valley with a goal after 51 minutes by Kagisho Dikgacoi.

Brighton & Hove Albion (4-1-2-3): Kuszczak; Bruno, Greer, El-Abd, Bridge; Bridcutt; Hammond, Dicker; Buckley (Orlandi, 77), Mackail-Smith (Dobbie, 69), Barnes (David Lopez, 82). Substitutes not used Ankergren, Dunk, Calderon, LuaLua.

Sheffield Wednesday ( 4-4-1-1): Kirkland; Mattock, Taylor, Llera, Beevers; Antonio, McCabe, Semedo, Johnson (Pecnik, 64); Rodri (Barkley, ht); Bothroyd (Madine, 87). Substitutes not used Bywater, Maguire, O'Grady, Lee.

Referee N Miller (Durham).