LONDON (Reuters) - Newcastle United notched a fifth consecutive Championship victory as their bid to return to the top flight at the first attempt gathered pace on Saturday.
Ayoze Perez needed just 60 seconds to put Rafa Benitez’s team on course for a 3-0 triumph over Ipswich Town, their 10th win in 14 league games in a season that began with two defeats.
Perez and Matt Ritchie were on target in the second half as Newcastle moved to 31 points, three ahead of Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town.
“It’s another good win because it’s not easy to win in this competition. We played really well in the first half,” former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Chelsea boss Benitez said.
Brighton won 1-0 at Wigan Athletic with a goal by Dale Stephens taking them into second spot above Norwich City who lost by the same score at home to Preston North End.
Norwich dropped to fourth, below Huddersfield who beat Derby County 1-0 with a stoppage-time strike to inflict the first defeat on the Rams since former England manager Steve McClaren returned to the helm earlier this month.
Aston Villa, the other team to be relegated last season along with Newcastle and Norwich, continued their revival under new manager Steve Bruce with a 1-0 home win over Fulham.
Villa have taken seven points from nine under Bruce and have moved up to 16th in the table.
Editing by Tony Jimenez