Miles Starforth’s match analysis: Leeds United 0 Newcastle United 2

Dwight Gayle
Dwight Gayle

This time it was Dwight Gayle’s turn to land a knockout blow.

A week after taking a punch to the face in a nightclub, Gayle delivered two blows of his own at Elland Road.

And Leeds United just couldn’t get back up again.

Newcastle United won 2-0 thanks to Gayles 12th and 13th goals of the season.

And it was a ninth successive win for Rafa Benitez’s Championship-leading side.

Gayle’s week had started with a visit to a dentist after suffering damage to several tooth veneers following a punch on a night out for Jamaal Lascelles’s birthday in Liverpool last weekend.

Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips (right) and Newcastle United's Ayoze Perez battle for the ball

Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips (right) and Newcastle United's Ayoze Perez battle for the ball

The striker sank his teeth into Leeds yesterday on his return to the starting XI.

And Gayle, with Lascelles by his side, left the field with a big smile on his face.

Newcastle’s supporters also filed out of Elland Road beaming, having watched their team record a ninth successive victory in all competitions.

The club, also in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup, has already reached the 40-point mark.

Benitez opted to recall Gayle to his starting XI. Aleksandar Mitrovic, so impressive in his last three appearances, dropped down to the bench.

Ayoze Perez and Vurnon Anita were also preferred to Mohamed Diame and DeAndre Yedlin, while Matt Ritchie returned from suspension at Elland Road, where Newcastle were backed by 2,750 travelling fans for the first league meeting at the stadium between the two teams in more than 13 years.

There have been some classics between the two clubs at Elland Road.

This wasn’t quite on of those, but the famous stadium will have witnessed few more dominanant and controlled away performances over the years.

Newcastle got a grip of the game from the outset – and didn’t let go.

Benitez’s players won their battles, moved the ball well at times and thanks to Gayle, they took all three points.

After a frenetic opening, there was applause in memory of the late Gary Speed, who served both clubs with distinction during his long playing career.

Jonjo Shelvey – who last week denied a Football Association misconduct charge that he used racially-aggravated language in a match earlier this season – helped settle Newcastle down.

The midfielder underlined his importance to the team with a series of simple passes and key interceptions.

Shelvey dictated the game in the early stages. There were no fancy passes from the 24-year-old, just quick, intelligent balls to better-placed team-mates. He also put his foot in when he had to.

Should Shelvey be banned, he will be missed.

Gayle, making his first start in almost a month, quickly made up for lost time, though his 23rd-minute goal had an element of fortune about it.

Jack Colback’s hopeful ball forward was inexplicably dropped on the line by goalkeeper Robert Green, and Gayle pounced to prod it over the line.

Leeds, for all their own possession, struggled in the final third of the pitch for much of the half. Karl Darlow, in Newcastle’s goal, had little to do until the 31st minute, when he tipped over a looping header from Luke Ayling header.

Darlow would be needed again in the second half.

Garry Monk’s side rallied as the half-time break neared, and home fans felt their side should have had a penalty when a cross from Ronaldo Vieira struck Colback in the box.

Leeds picked up where thety had left off before the interval, and Darlow made a one-handed save to deny Eunan O’Kane early in the second half.

No sooner had Newcastle wrestled control of the ball away from Leeds after a challenging start to the half, the ball was in the back of the net.

Gayle, again, was the scorer.

They worked the ball from back to front and a low cross from Anita was poked past Green by an unmarked Gayle.

An object was thrown at Gayle as he celebrated in front of the home end at Elland Road. The striker, fortunately, was unhurt, and referee Graham Scott handed the missle to the fourth official.

By now, Shelvey’s every touch was being booed by Leeds supporters.

Benitez sent on Diame, Mitrovic and Isaac Hayden as substitutes late in the game to help see the game out, and Newcastle never looked like letting their lead slip as fans started to stream out of Elland Road.

The home stands steadily emptied as Newcastle comfortably and confidently wound the clock down to the final whistle.

But the travelling fans, hemmed into one end of the ageing West Stand, stayed long after the final whistle.

The last two players to leave the field were Gayle and Lascelles, Benitez’s captain.

And there was a big smile on a dressing-room bound Gayle’s face as supporters chanted “Dwight Gayle, he scores with no teeth”.

They also sang that their club would win the league.

Newcastle have been unbeatable of late. And they are looking more and more unstoppable with every Championship game.