Dwight Gayle’s double sees Newcastle extend lead at the top
A rare sell-out crowd at Elland Road see Garry Monk’s Leeds comfortably beaten
Dwight Gayle’s brace helped Newcastle to a comfortable win over Leeds at Elland Road. Photograph: PA/Nigel French
Leeds United 0 Newcastle United 2
Dwight Gayle scored in each half to clinch Newcastle a deserved 2-0 win at Leeds and send them five points clear at the top of the Sky Bet Championship.
Magpies striker Gayle gleefully pounced onto a clanger by Leeds goalkeeper Rob Green to silence the majority in a bumper Elland Road crowd with a simple tap-in and converted a superb second for his 13th goal of the season early in the second period.
Rafael Benitez’s side were worthy winners, producing some fine football to carry them to an eighth straight league win and their ninth in all competitions.
But Garry Monk’s much-improved Leeds had their moments in front of their first sell-out crowd in six and a half years and will feel aggrieved at two legitimate first-half penalty appeals being turned down as they were denied a fourth successive league win and a place back in the top six.
Newcastle burst out of the blocks and looked a class above any previous opposition Leeds had faced on home soil this season in the early stages, with Gayle’s snap-shot brilliantly blocked by Green in the seventh minute.
Both sets of fans marked the fifth anniversary of former Leeds and Newcastle midfielder Gary Speed’s death with a warm standing ovation in the 11th minute.
The former Wales international would have relished this midfield contest, which, orchestrated by Jonjo Shelvey, Newcastle had mastery of by the time they were gifted the lead in the 23rd minute.
Magpies midfielder Jack Colback launched the ball into the penalty area and, although Green initially caught it, the Leeds keeper inexplicably dropped the ball on his goalline and Gayle tapped home his 12th goal of the season.
Yoan Gouffran’s low fizzing drive flew wide soon after, but Leeds gained some parity as half-time beckoned and defender Luke Ayling’s header was tipped over the crossbar by visiting keeper Karl Darlow.
Leeds had two first-half penalty appeals waved away by referee Graham Scott as they threatened to get back on level terms before the break.
Left-back Charlie Taylor went tumbling in the box, but did not appear to be touched by a defender, while Leeds’ second appeal carried more weight as Ronaldo Vieira’s shot hit Colback’s raised arm, with Leeds centre-half Pontus Jansson booked for protesting.
Eunan O’Kane’s low shot on the turn was well saved by Darlow early in the second half as Leeds continued to take the game to Newcastle.
But a top-class goal in the 54th minute took the wind out of Leeds’ sails. Vurnon Anita and Ayoze Perez combined on the right side of the area to carve open Leeds’ defence and the former’s cross was steered home by Gayle at the far post.
Ayling’s deflected shot spun over the crossbar and the right-back then saw his dangerous cross turned just wide of the post.
Leeds failed to create another clear-cut chance as Newcastle saw the game out, with Darlow’s hurried clearance spinning away from striker Chris Wood in the closing stages.