LONDON (AFP) – Bournemouth swept to the top of the Championship with a 5-3 victory over Cardiff after Derby surrendered top spot with a 2-0 loss at promotion rivals Middlesbrough on Saturday. Eddie Howe’s team are above Middlesbrough on goal difference thanks to their free-scoring performance at Dean Court.
Matt Ritchie, Harry Arter, Marc Pugh, Yann Kermorgant and Callum Wilson were on target for the Cherries, with Kenwyne Jones and a Sean Morrison double keeping the Bluebirds in contention until late on.
“We are delighted to score five goals and it was a terrific performance,” said Bournemouth assistant manager Jason Tindall.
“It’s great to be top at this stage of the season. The aim now is to try and build on that and increase our lead. “We knew Derby had lost at the start of our match against Cardiff and that a two-goal win could take us top.
“We didn’t expect it to be 5-3. That shows how much quality we have in our team.” Bournemouth’s victory, which extended their unbeaten run to 12 matches, was the perfect preparation for their League Cup quarter-final against Liverpool in midweek.
But Derby, who host Chelsea in the same competition this week, had a less uplifting experience at the Riverside Stadium ahead of their glamour tie against the Premier League leaders.
Steve McClaren’s side started the day on top of the second tier table, but they ended it in third place as Patrick Bamford opened the scoring for Middlesbrough and Grant Leadbitter netted the second from the penalty spot after Ryan Shotton was sent off.“Credit to Middlesbrough. Once they scored the first goal, they got their tails up and deserved to win,” McClaren said.
“This is the Championship. We have to do what we usually do: dust ourselves off, credit the opponent and perform better.”
Demarai Gray hit a hat-trick as Birmingham made it four wins in their last six league matches with a 6-1 thrashing of Reading at St Andrew’s.Paul Caddis, Andrew Shinnie and David Cotterill also netted for Gary Rowett’s Blues, with Glenn Murray responding for the Royals.
Norwich were also big winners as they crushed Huddersfield 5-0 at Carrow Road, with Bradley Johnson bagging a brace and Nathan Redmond, Cameron Jerome and Lewis Grabban all scoring after the Terriers had Murray Wallace sent off in the 17th minute.
Former Chelsea forward Eidur Gudjohnsen appeared as a second-half substitute for Bolton, but the 36-year-old’s second debut – 14 years after he last played for Wanderers – couldn’t spark a victory in a 0-0 draw against fourth placed Ipswich at Macron Stadium. Jonathan Douglas, Andre Gray and Jose Ignacio Peleteiro Ramallo struck as Brentford beat Blackburn 3-1, while Troy Deeney bagged a brace as Watford secured a 2-1 success against Wigan, which left Malky Mackay still without a win as Latics boss.