Newcastle United downed Leeds United 2-0 at Elland Road to give the Magpies a five-point lead atop the English Football Championship table. Rafa Benitez's side rose to the occasion in what was supposed to be one of its best tests of this year, facing a Leeds side in good form away from home.
Dwight Gayle continues to dazzle as he notched a brace with his 12th and 13th goals of the campaign. His 13 scores lead the championship as we near the halfway mark. His performance today was all the more impressive when you consider that his status was in doubt following the recent attack he suffered.
The first of his two goals was a true poachers effort. Jack Colback tried to catch Leeds keeper Rob Green (yes the same Rob Green as the 2010 World Cup) out of position with an effort from about 40 yards out. Elliot failed to secure the floating ball and Gayle slipped it right past him with a well placed foot from only a yard out.
Gayle's second was a perfect example of patience and team football. Jack Colback, Vernon Anita and Ayoze Perez pulled the Leeds defense apart with a passing move that drew the keeper out. Gayle kept himself onside to smash home Anita's low cross. Colback really controlled much of this game in the center of the park and pushed the play throughout the match in NUFC's favor.
Leeds managed to work Newcastle keeper Karl Darlow a bit with four shots on goal, but the 26-year old Englishman managed to keep the clean sheet.
It was one of the few games all year where Newcastle have not dominated the possession, but it made the best of its chances. The Magpies kept working Green throughout the game and even when the shots were not coming, it was evident that Newcastle were the more likely side to score.
Jonjo Shelvey also made his return following his clearance at his FA hearing.
This win makes it nine in a row for Rafa Benitez's Toon Army. It was the first time these two sides had faced off since 2013, where Newcastle won by the same score in League Cup action.
Next up for this group is a visit from Blackburn before traveling to KCOM Stadium for a their quarterfinal matchup with Hull City.