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Brighton boost promotion hopes and deal blow to Birmingham boss Gianfranco Zola

Brighton boost promotion hopes and deal blow to Birmingham boss Gianfranco Zola
By PA Sport

17/12/2016 at 20:51Updated 17/12/2016 at 23:49

New Birmingham manager Gianfranco Zola suffered a painful start as Glenn Murphy headed a stoppage-time winner for Brighton at St Andrew's.

It was a cruel finish to the match for Birmingham and Zola, who looked to be heading for a memorable victory following a 52nd-minute goal from striker Lukas Jutkiewicz.

But Brighton are not second in the Sky Bet Championship without the ability to hit back. The ever-dangerous Anthony Knockaert equalised in the 83rd minute before Murray headed in to give Brighton a 2-1 success, with the Seagulls extending their unbeaten run to 16 games.

It was certainly a baptism of fire for the Italian manager who took over from Gary Rowett in midweek under surprising circumstances.

Gianfranco Zola saw his Birmingham side beaten by a late winner

Gianfranco Zola saw his Birmingham side beaten by a late winnerPA Sport

Reading keeping up their distant pursuit of the top two in English football's second division with a 3-2 win at Blackburn Rovers secured by a 92nd-minute winner from George Evans.

Jaap Stam's side leapt above Huddersfield Town into third place, eight points behind Brighton, while Leeds United moved into fifth with Kyle Bartley's 89th-minute header earning them a 1-0 win over Brentford.

Sheffield Wednesday are in the final playoff spot in sixth place after they too needed a stoppage-time winner to beat Rotherham United 1-0 with Steven Fletcher converting from the penalty spot.

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