Gayle hits tre­ble as Mag­pies go back top

The Football League Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Dunlavy

AF­TER Brighton had the temer­ity to snatch top spot in the Cham­pi­onship on Fri­day night, New­cas­tle hit back in style by thrash­ing Birm­ing­ham to re­claim their place at the sum­mit.

And, not supris­ingly, Dwight Gayle played a star­ring role, help­ing him­self to a hat-trick as the Toon Army ended a run of three suc­ces­sive de­feats in league and cup. The sec­ond tier’s top scorer, 26, has now net­ted 16 goals this term since his £10m sum­mer switch from Crystal Palace.

Mag­pies boss Rafa Ben­itez said: “He is a great fin­isher, with great move­ment. As you saw, he can make the dif­fer­ence.

“I al­ways knew that Dwight could score goals. Nor­mally, I don’t think about how many. I still don’t want to say a figure but it is clear that he can score a lot – hope­fully ev­ery game.”

The Toon Army are now a point clear of Brighton, who beat Leeds 2-0.

Birm­ing­ham boss Gary Rowett said: “That’s a Premier League side out there and they gave us a lit­tle bit of a les­son.” ●

PIC­TURE: Craig Doyle/ProS­ports

SMILES BET­TER: Dwight Gayle en­joys his – and New­cas­tle’s – sec­ond in the 4-0 rout of Birm­ing­ham

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