BRIGHTON (Reuters) - Brighton & Hove Albion took a stride towards Premier League safety and left Newcastle United deep in the relegation mire after a 3-0 home victory in the basement battle on Saturday.
Leandro Trossard's lethal finish gave Brighton the lead just before halftime and Danny Welbeck matched that with a sumptuous curler six minutes after the restart.
Newcastle's misery was complete when Neal Maupay's sharp finish made it 3-0 with around 20 minutes remaining.
Sixteenth-placed Brighton's second successive victory put them on 32 points from 29 games, six points above third-from-bottom Fulham who have also played one game more.
Newcastle, without a league win in six games, are 17th and only two points ahead of Fulham and although they have a game in hand, their fixtures after the international break are tough.
Brighton manager Graham Potter said his side deserved the win after a dominant performance.
"Really pleased, I thought the performance was fantastic," he said. "We were brave and smart and we were the dominant team.
"The way we got the points tonight will give the players a lot of confidence and belief. It's three important points but we need to keep going."
Newcastle's overall performance was dismal, although luck was not on their side.
Shortly before going behind, they lost midfielder Isaac Hayden to what looked a serious leg injury after an accidental collision with Brighton's Yves Bissouma.
And just a minute before Welbeck struck they were denied an equaliser when Ryan Fraser's curling effort struck the post.
Newcastle could have few complaints though as Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez did not have to make a save.
"We were beaten by a far better team on the night," Newcastle manger Steve Bruce said. "It was a very difficult evening for us and we have to accept it.
"At times it was a bit too easy for Brighton."
Newcastle were rocked when Hayden was taken off on a stretcher after Bissouma fell onto his outstretched leg, with Bruce confirming he had suffered a knee injury.
It got worse almost immediately as Trossard received a long pass and then turned inside his marker before curling a low shot inside the left-hand post of goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
Fraser was desperately unlucky not to level the scores but it was Newcastle's only serious goal attempt and shortly afterwards Welbeck produced an almost carbon copy of Trossard's goal to put his side firmly in control.
After that, Newcastle looked deflated and Brighton made sure of the points with Maupay finishing off a flowing move.
"Massive win. We knew before the game it was really important. Three goals, a clean sheet - a very good night for us," Maupay said.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)