Derby County took another huge stride towards securing a play-off place with a convincing 3-0 victory over struggling Charlton Athletic at the iPro Stadium.
The Rams were irresistible in possession and their attractive passing was too much for the visitors to deal with as they were easily swept aside.
First-half goals from Johnny Russell and Patrick Bamford set Derby on their way to grabbing the win, before a late third from top scorer Chris Martin made it a sure thing.
The Rams are fourth in the Sky Bet Championship, just a point behind third placed Queens Park Rangers, and 11 points clear of seventh placed Nottingham Forest.
Derby bossed the first half, dominating possession and creating myriad chances to score.
Charlton simply could not cope with the Rams’ slick, one-touch passing and found it difficult to get out of their own half.
The home side faced little resistance as they repeatedly bore down on the visitors’s goal and it seemed only a matter of time before they would break the deadlock.
In the 18th minute, that honour belonged to Russell, who rounded off some neat build-up play with a close range strike inside Charlton ‘keeper, Ben Hamer’s near post.
Derby continued to control proceedings and they were able to double their lead before the end of the first-half when an error from Addicks’ captain Johnnie Jackson allowed Bamford to poke home from close range.
The second half saw the visitors start much more brightly than they had ended the first, but Derby were able to deal with their attacks and before long, were back on top.
And in the 84th minute, top-scorer Chris Martin put the tie to bed when he buried a header from Craig Bryson’s corner to make it 3-0 and complete an impressive victory.
The first chance of the game fell to Bryson in the second minute, who found himself in acres of space, but his shot from 25-yards lacked power and direction and rolled wide.
The Rams then went close again after a seventh minute corner was cleared, but only as far as West Brom loanee, George Thorne, who took a touch before hitting a powerful shot from around 25-yards flew narrowly over.
Charlton broke quickly to call Lee Grant into action for the first time as Marvin Sordell held the ball up well before playing in Johnnie Jackson, whose first time shot required a fantastic reaction save from the Derby ‘keeper.
At the other end, Bryson again had a sight of goal and took aim. His shot was charged down but ricocheted to Russell who chested before volleying over.
Moments later, a cleared cross looped up and out to Bryson who had time to measure a venomous volley which arrowed just wide.
The pressure from the home side was mounting and they made it count in the 18th minute when Jeff Hendrick passed to Bamford in the area, Bamford squared for Russell and the Scotsman created enough space to pick his spot and beat Ben Hamer at his near post.
The Ram’s won a free-kick three minutes later when Bamford was fouled by and Russell looked to double his tally, but his bending free-kick curled agonisingly wide of Hamer’s right post.
Charlton looked to break again, in an move almost identical to their earlier chance, but this time, Jonathan Obika’s ball came too late and Reza Ghoochannejhad’s shot was blocked easily by Derby’s defenders.
Derby looked dangerous every time they come forward and could have made it two when Bamford played in Hendrick, who got the ball onto his left foot before shooting high and wide from the edge of the area.
And in the 29th minute, another golden opportunity fell the way of the hosts courtesy of Thorne whose well struck shot from edge of the area was tipped by round the post.
From the subsequent corner, Bryson picked out Richard Keogh who powered a header goalwards, but it hit one of his teammates and bounced harmlessly wide.
Charlton had a fantastic chance to draw level on the half hour mark when Jonathan Obika was up-ended by Jake Buxton just yards outside the Derby box, but Jackson’s effort was straight at Grant
who saved comfortably.
In the 38th minute, Derby found themselves two goals to the good thanks to some fairly lacklustre defending from the away side.
When a cross from the left looped up high off the head of Bamford it looked as if the chance had passed, but when Charlton skipper, Jackson mis-controlled the dropping ball, it came straight back to the Chelsea loanee who managed to divert the loose ball past Hamer to double the Rams’ lead.
The Rams were relentless in their efforts to increase their advantage and in first-half stoppage time, a defence splitting slide rule pass from Bamford sent Andre Wisdom through on the Charlton goal, but the Addicks' ‘keeper did well to close down the angle and block the shot.
Charlton started the second period brightly and looked determined to make amends for a poor showing in the first 45 minutes.
Five minutes after the restart Michael Morrison was allowed to muscle his way in to the area, but his close range effort was blocked for a corner by Buxton.
Derby couldn’t get the ball away and barely a minute later, a left footed shot half-time substitute Callum Harriott was deflected narrowly wide.
Charlton looked a different side to the one that had played so poorly before half-time and Joe Piggott had only been on the pitch a matter of minutes when he found himself with time and space to take a right-footed shot 20-yards from goal, but Grant got down well to keep it out.
Derby were equal to Charlton’s attacks and it wasn’t long before they were back in control of the game, frustrating Charlton who were simply unable to drag themselves back into the match.
There were very few chances of note for either side as the half wore on, but with ten minutes of normal time to go, Russell had a sight of goal once more, but his powerful strike whistled past the right post for a goal kick.
Two minutes later, Chris Martin was able make it three, meeting a corner from the right to thump a header past Hamer to put the game beyond doubt and secure maximum points for Derby.
Derby County: Grant (GK); Wisdom, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth, Thorne (Eustace 70'), Hendrick, Bryson, Bamford (Sammon 71'), Russell (Naylor 87'), Martin.
Substitutes not used: Legzdins (GK), Whitbread, Bailey, O’Brien.
Charlton Athletic: Hamer (GK), Wilson, Wiggins, Morrison, Wood, Poyet, Cousins, Jackson (Petrucci – 82), Ghoochannejhad (Harriott – 45), Sordell (Piggott – 58), Obika.
Substitutes not used: Thuram-Ulien (GK), Hughes, Nego, Lennon.