NORWICH, England (Reuters) - Championship leaders Norwich City were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Blackburn Rovers on Saturday as second-placed Watford closed the gap at the top to eight points with a convincing 3-0 victory over relegation-threatened Birmingham City.
Norwich took the lead eight minutes into the second half as Kenny McLean exchanged passes with Kieran Dowell before scoring from close range, but the hosts were denied all three points as Blackburn substitute Sam Gallagher headed in from a free kick.
Daniel Farke's runaway leaders have 83 points from 38 games.
In-form Watford look favourites to join Norwich in the automatic promotion spots after an easy win over Birmingham.
Goals by Ken Sema, Nathaniel Chalobah and Andre Gray secured a ninth win in 10 games for the Hornets.
Third-placed Swansea City suffered a second defeat of the week as they lost the South Wales derby against Cardiff City 1-0 -- defender Aden Flint heading the only goal.
Swansea have 69 points from 37 games while Watford have 75 from 38.
Brentford's hopes of automatic promotion are fading as they drew 1-1 with Nottingham Forest to move to 68 points. They have won only three of their last nine games.
Barnsley and Reading occupy the final two playoff spots but Barnsley lost 2-1 to struggling visitors Sheffield Wednesday while Reading drew 1-1 at home to Queens Park Rangers.
Basement side Wycombe Wanderers drew 0-0 at fellow strugglers Coventry City while third-bottom Rotherham United responded to a 4-1 hammering by Watford last time out by beating Bristol City 2-0 away.
Wayne Rooney's Derby County remain in relegation danger as they lost 1-0 at Stoke City to stay in 19th place, five points above third-from-bottom Rotherham who have several games in hand of the teams around them.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris and Christian Radnedge)