Smith and Rasiak combine to unhinge Brighton

<preform>Derby County 3 Brighton & Hove Albion 0</preform>
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The Independent Online

No need for any escapology routine this time. Derby County did it the straightforward way as they marched on with more than a touch of style.With Polish international Grzegorz Rasiak scoring twice, this was their biggest and most impressive success of the season.

No need for any escapology routine this time. Derby County did it the straightforward way as they marched on with more than a touch of style.With Polish international Grzegorz Rasiak scoring twice, this was their biggest and most impressive success of the season.

Not for six years have Derby won three games on the trot but, following wins over Burnley and Rotherham - when they came from two goals down to win 3-2 - the Rams carried a swagger that could have swept Brighton away in the opening half-hour.

In these troubled times for Midlands football, the pace and attacking flair of George Burley's side are writing a relative success story, with the Pride Park mood further brightened by the continuing distress of arch-rivals Nottingham Forest.

The breakthrough was only nine minutes in coming and, even then, it following a terrific save by Michel Kuipers from Rasiak's fierce close-range shot.

Brighton were then unhinged by a lovely link-up between Tommy Smith and Rasiak, from which Smith cut in and curled a delightful low left-foot shot just inside the far post from 15 yards.

Although Ben Harding's centre was wastefully headed over the bar at the other end by the unmarked Leon Knight, Smith's goal might have been the first of several. Danny Cullip was sufficiently discomforted as to loop an intended clearance against his own post from a cross by Marco Reich, whose next quality delivery, driven at pace, skimmed off the bar.

If Derby were somewhat short-changed by the slenderness of their interval lead, they didn't waste much time afterwards doubling it. Brighton found themselves short of cover at the back in the face of Paul Peschisolido's run and his short pass released Rasiak to score with a neat left-foot shot as Kuipers advanced.

Even with 41 minutes to go, the visitors' two-goal deficit looked steep, although their hopes flickered when Adam Hinshelwood's toe-poke was blocked on the line by the outstanding Reich.

Rasiak's towering header to Smith's cross made it three with 10 minutes to go.

Derby County (4-4-2): Camp; Kenna, Johnson, Huddlestone, Vincent; Smith (Tudgay, 80), Bolder (Taylor, 73),Idiakez (Mills, 86), Reich; Peschisolido, Rasiak. Substitutes not used: Grant (gk), Holmes.

Brighton & Hove Albion(4-4-2): Kuipers, El-Abd (Carpenter, 39), Cullip, Butters, Harding; Hinshelwood, Oatway (Mayo, 67), Hammond (Piercy, 54), Currie; Knight, Virgo. Substitutes not used: May,(gk), Jarrett.

Referee: E Evans (Lancashire).

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