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Wood's hat-trick against old club Newcastle gives Nuno first win

26 Dec 2023
Nuno Espirito Santo and Chris Wood

Striker becomes only the second Forest player to score a hat-trick as he takes his team five points clear of danger

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Chris Wood made a devastating return to St James’ Park, scoring a hat-trick against his former club to give Nuno Espirito Santo his first win as Nottingham Forest head coach and inflict on Newcastle United a fourth defeat in five Premier League matches.

Newcastle initially took the lead as Alexander Isak won and converted a penalty, but Wood levelled at the end of the first half and then netted again in the 53rd and 60th minutes, stunning Newcastle fans who had watched him score just once in 18 top-flight matches at St James’ Park as a Newcastle player.

Wood is only the second Forest player to score a Premier League hat-trick, after Kevin Campbell in 1996, while he is the first player to score a top-flight treble on Boxing Day for six years, and the seventh overall.

Forest’s victory, in Nuno’s second match in charge, keeps them two points clear of the relegation zone.

The relegation battle

Position Pos Club Played Pl GD Points Pts
16 Everton EVE 33 -14 30
17 Nott'm Forest NFO 34 -18 26
18 Luton LUT 34 -28 25
19 Burnley BUR 34 -32 23
20 Sheffield Utd SHU 33 -57 16
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How the match unfolded

Newcastle made two changes from Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Luton Town, with Sven Botman replacing the injured Jamaal Lascelles and Isak being given the nod up top instead of Callum Wilson.

Nuno reshuffled his team and made six changes from the 3-2 loss against AFC Bournemouth

Newcastle were fortunate not to fall behind early on when Morgan Gibbs-White won the ball back inside their penalty box before shooting just wide.

But the home side went on to dominate and in the 20th minute Isak received a pass from Lewis Miley, turned past Ola Aina and won his side a penalty, before stepping up and coolly converting the spot-kick.

Isak, Newcastle

Forest were still a threat though and should have levelled when Anthony Elanga opted to shoot rather than squaring to Wood and giving his team-mate a tap-in.

Elanga didn’t make the same mistake a second time, though. When he received a pass from Gibbs-White late in the first half, he played the ball across the box and Wood was on hand to score.

The end-to-end action would continue in the second half, and within 30 seconds of the restart Gibbs-White headed a glorious chance wide.

Forest then took the lead as Wood scored a sensational goal in front of the Gallowgate End. Newcastle lost possession in the final third and Elanga played in Wood down the left channel. Wood still had a lot of work to do but he did superbly to sit Dan Burn down before clipping the ball over Martin Dubravka into the right corner of the net.

Newcastle United v Nottingham Forest

The afternoon would then get better for Wood, who claimed the match ball after receiving a long-range pass from Murillo and keeping himself onside before rounding Dubravka.

The 32-year-old became only the fourth player to score a hat-trick against a former club, after Andy Cole against Newcastle, Marcus Bent against Blackburn Rovers and Joshua King against Everton

Newcastle were still a threat and Matt Turner produced a fine save to deny Isak from close range. But the Magpies couldn’t add a second goal, and their latest defeat leaves them in eighth, seven points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, having played an extra match.

The top-four race

Position Pos Club Played Pl GD Points Pts
4 Aston Villa AVL 34 +21 66
5 Spurs TOT 32 +16 60
6 Newcastle NEW 32 +17 50
7 Man Utd MUN 32 -1 50
8 West Ham WHU 34 -9 48
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Next Premier League fixtures
Key facts

This was Newcastle’s very first Premier League defeat against Nottingham Forest (W7 D3), with the Magpies having won each of their previous five home meetings with Forest in the competition. In fact, the Tricky Trees’ last away league victory at Newcastle in the top tier came in October 1988 under Brian Clough (1-0).

Newcastle have now lost 16 Premier League Boxing Day fixtures – the outright most of any side. Furthermore, it was the Magpies’ 47th such defeat in English league history, which is also the all-time most by any club.

This was just the second time that Nottingham Forest have conceded first and gone on to win a Premier League away game, after their 3-1 win over Leeds in April 1996. This was also Forest’s first away victory in the competition having conceded at all since May 1999 (2-1 at Blackburn).

Nottingham Forest’s Chris Wood was only the seventh player to score a hat-trick in the Premier League on Boxing Day, while he was the first to do so since Harry Kane netted a treble against Southampton for Tottenham in 2017.

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