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Thursday 14 December 2017

Toon sweep to top spot as Villa's bad run continues

Newcastle Utd 2 Aston Villa 0

Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA
Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA

Newcastle United are a point clear at the top of the Championship after inflicting more misery on out-of-sorts Aston Villa.

Yoan Gouffran netted the opener from four yards in the first half and another goalmouth scramble resulted in Henri Lansbury turning the ball into his own net in the 59th minute. However, Newcastle's victory came at a cost as top scorer Dwight Gayle limped off after 33 minutes.

There was further bad news for Villa as striker Scott Hogan had to be carried off on a stretcher late on. They are now winless in nine league matches.

Hogan, who cost £12m from Brentford in January, landed awkwardly after challenging for a header at a late Villa corner. Gayle - the Championship's leading scorer with 20 league goals this season - appeared to suffer a recurrence of the hamstring problem which had kept him out for six matches.

Villa remain six points above the relegation zone, having collected only one point in 2017, although Steve Bruce's side had more than matched the Magpies until they fell behind.

Iceland midfielder Birkir Bjarnason went closest for the visitors, failing to hook in Hogan's flick-on from close range and later having a shot saved by Karl Darlow.

Newcastle's goal came soon after Gayle's departure, with Villa failing to properly clear a Matt Ritchie cross and French winger Gouffran tapping in.

After that, the hosts took control, although their second goal came in fortuitous circumstances thanks to Lansbury's intervention.

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