Newcastle extend lead
DWIGHT GAYLE scored twice as Rafael Benitez’s relentless Newcastle United won 2-0 at Leeds United yesterday to move five points clear at the top of the Championship.
Gayle punished a howler by Leeds goalkeeper Rob Green to put Newcastle ahead in the 23rd minute and netted the visitors’ second early in the second half to take his tally for the season to 13 goals.
It was Newcastle’s eighth straight win in the English second tier, keeping them on course for an immediate return to the Premier League.
Benitez’s men are five points clear of second-place Brighton and Hove Albion and nine points above third-place Reading.
Leeds remain a point outside the playoff places in seventh place.
The meeting of two of England’s fallen giants brought a crowd of 36,002 to Elland Road – the first time Leeds had sold out a league game in almost six years.
Green produced an alert early block to deny Gayle from Jonjo Shelvey’s quick freekick, but midway through the first half the former England goalkeeper’s blunder gifted Newcastle the lead.
Forced back onto his goal-line by Jack Colback’s lofted ball, Green appeared caught in two minds and dropped the ball right in front of him, allowing the opportunistic Gayle to stab home.
Garry Monk’s Leeds responded positively, with Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow saving smartly from Luke Ayling and Eunan O’Kane either side of halftime.
But Gayle doubled Newcastle’s lead in the 54th minute, sliding in to touch home Vurnon Anita’s low cross after a slick move down the visitors’ right flank.
In games played Saturday, Jaap Stam’s Reading went third in the English Championship with a 3-0 win at home to Burton on Saturday.
“Hopefully we can stay up there, but we’re not aiming for that third or fourth spot yet. We’re not focused on getting into a certain position in the table,” said Stam.
Ian Holloway started his second spell as Queens Park Rangers manager with a 2-1 win at home to Norwich as the Canaries suffered a fourth straight defeat.
Neil Warnock continued his revival of Cardiff City with a 3-2 win over Huddersfield. Warnock said “games like this Cardiff win keep him “out of retirement”. Strikes from Sean Morrison, Junior Hoilett and Rickie Lambert sent the 67-year-old manager home happy – despite Tommy Smith and Phil Billing’s wonder-strike making it a nervy ending.
Blackburn bounced back from conceding after just 33 seconds to beat Brentford 3-2 while in the late kickoff Britt Assombalonga scored both goals – including one after just 17 seconds – as Nottingham Forest defeated Ipswich 2-0 and kept their first clean sheet of the season. – Agencies