Newcastle United 3 Nottingham Forest 1: Gayle fires club back to top of league

Matt Ritchie
Matt Ritchie
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Newcastle United returned to the top of the Championship tonight.

Rafa Benitez's side beat 10-man Nottingham Forest 3-1 at St James's Park thanks to two goals from Dwight Gayle and a strike from Matt Ritchie.

The result saw the club go a point clear of Brighton and Hove Albion, whose home game against Cardiff City was postponed because of fog.

Newcastle got off to the perfect start in front of a sell-out 52,228 crowd.

Ritchie opened the scoring with a fourth-minute free-kick which took a deflection and wrong-footed visiting goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic.

But Forest were back in the game in the 29th minute.

Nicolao Dumitru capitalised on a defensive mix-up to equalise, and United struggled to regain their early momentum before the interval.

The game turned on the dismissal of Forest captain Matt Mills for two bookable offences.

Mills, shown a yellow card for a foul, reacted angrily to the decision and was sent off for two bookable offences by Keith Stroud, who first spoke to the fourth official.

Gayle soon put United – who had had two players sent off in the meeting between the two clubs at the City Ground earlier this month – ahead.

The striker volleyed home after Ciaran Clark crossed the ball.

And Gayle netted Newcastle's third in the 80th minute after good work from Ritchie, who was superb in the second half.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Darlow; Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett; Hayden, Colback (Diame, 67); Ritchie (Lazaar, 83), Perez, Atsu; Gayle (Mitrovic, 88). Subs not used: Sels, Anita, Mbemba, Gouffran.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST: Stojkovic, Cash, Mills, Hobbs, Lam (Ahmedhodzic, 84), Lichaj, Kasami, Osborn, Pereira, Dumitru (Assombalonga, 73), Bendtner (Vaughan, 81). Subs not used: Henderson, Carayol, Grant, Vellios.

Goals: Ritchie 4, Dumitru 29, Gayle 64, 80

Bookings: Clark 12, Lam 26, Colback 53, Mills 59, Pereira 61, Yedlin 65

Sent off: Mills 60

Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire)

Attendance: 52,228