Huddersfield Town 1 Newcastle United 3: Gayle, Murphy and Ritchie net in HUGE win

Matt Ritchie and Daryl Murphy
Matt Ritchie and Daryl Murphy

Newcastle United went FIVE points clear at the top of the Championship tonight.

Rafa Benitez's side beat Huddersfield Town 3-1 at the John Smith's Stadium thanks goals from Matt Ritchie, Daryl Murphy and Dwight Gayle.

The win followed a 3-0 defeat for second-placed Brighton and Hove Albion, beaten by United on Tuesday night, at Nottingham Forest.

And Newcastle, crucially, are now 11 points ahead of third-placed Huddersfield with 11 games left to play, though David Wagner's side have a game in hand.

The match was dominated by the decisions of referee Roger East, who awarded a controversial early penalty to United after Ritchie went down in the box.

Ritchie converted the spot kick to put Newcastle ahead.

And Murphy, making his first start in more than a month, put Newcastle further ahead just past the hour mark with a shot through the legs of Huddersfield goalkeeper Danny Ward.

Huddersfield fans, however, felt Murphy had kicked the ball out of Ward's hands after latching on to a superb ball forward from Shelvey.

United goalkeeper Karl Darlow, meanwhile, was equal to everything thrown at him at the other end of the pitch.

The home side fought back after the break, and Aaron Mooy pulled a goal back from the penalty spot after Elias Kachunga went down in the box.

Benitez sent on fit-again Gayle for the last 25 minutes in the hope Newcastle could catch Huddersfield on the break.

And Gayle, back from a hamstring, did just that to put the game beyond Huddersfield in injury time.

The striker took advantage of an error from substitute goalkeeper Joel Coleman – who had gone up for a late corner – to score his 21st goal of the season.

HUDDERSFIELD TOWN: Ward (Coleman, 46), Smith, Schindler, Hefele, Lowe (Quaner, 86), Mooy, Billing (Hogg, 66), Kachunga, Brown, La Parra, Wells. Subs not used: Hudson, Crainie, Payne, Lolley.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Darlow; Anita, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett; Shelvey, Colback (Gouffran, 72); Ritchie, Diame, Atsu (Yedlin, 81); Murphy (Gayle, 65). Subs not used: Elliot, Gamez, Hanley, Perez.

Goals: Ritchie 10 (pen), Murphy 32, Mooy 73 (pen)

Bookings: Schindler 33, Colback 35, Anita 45, Clark 46, Shelvey 61

Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire)

Attendance: 23,213