Feb 20, 2017 at 8pm UK at ​St James' Park
NewcastleNewcastle United
Aston Villa
Gouffran (42'), Lansbury (59' og.)
Shelvey (34'), Lascelles (37')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Result: Newcastle United pile misery on Aston Villa to move top of the table

Result: Newcastle down Villa to move top
© Getty Images
Newcastle United climb to the top of the Championship table with a 2-0 victory over Aston Villa at St James' Park as the visitors fall to a fifth straight defeat.

Newcastle United have moved back to the top of the Championship table courtesy of a 2-0 win over out-of-form Aston Villa at St James' Park this evening.

Yoan Gouffran gave the hosts the lead at the end of the first half before an own goal from Henri Lansbury condemned Steve Bruce's visitors to a fifth consecutive defeat - their worst run in the second tier of English football since 1937.

Villa's nine-match winless streak, which stretches back to Boxing Day, is also the longest in the Championship, but the visitors did not look like a team struggling with confidence for much of the first half and could have taken the lead inside five minutes.

A deep free kick was nodded on by the returning Mile Jedinak and then Scott Hogan, but Birkir Bjarnason was unable to wrap his foot around the looping ball enough to steer it home from close range.

The first goal was always likely to be important in the match, with Newcastle having lost on all six occasions they had conceded first in the league this season, while Villa had also failed to overcome falling behind away from home this term.

It was the visitors who looked more likely to break the deadlock as the half wore on, and the opener almost came in fortuitous circumstances when top-scorer Jonathan Kodjia's cross deflected off DeAndre Yedlin and needed a save from Karl Darlow to keep it out.

An uninspiring performance from the hosts took a turn for the worse when Championship top-scorer Dwight Gayle's return to the starting lineup following a month on the sidelines was brought to a premature end after just 33 minutes when he limped off to be replaced by Aleksandar Mitrovic.

While losing the 20-goal Gayle was a blow, Mitrovic ended up having an important role to play when the deadlock was finally broken with the only shot on target of the first half.

Jamaal Lascelles won the first ball from a corner and nodded it into a dangerous area, causing a frantic goalmouth scramble that eventually saw Mitrovic poke the ball into the path of Yoann Gouffran, who swept it home just three minutes before the interval.

A second Newcastle shot of the opening 45 minutes swiftly followed when Matt Ritchie drilled a low effort comfortably wide of the target, but Bruce will have gone into the break feeling as though his side did not deserve to be behind.

The goal seemed to settle Newcastle down, though, and the Magpies were much more convincing in the second half as they took the game beyond their struggling opponents.

The second goal arrived shortly before the hour mark when Jonjo Shelvey's powerful free kick earned a corner which Lascelles steered towards goal. Lansbury looked to be well-placed on the post to clear the danger, but he was slow to react as the ball bounced off the woodwork and back against him for an own goal.

Villa were in need of a quick reply to stand any chance of getting back into the match, but Darlow denied that when he made a fine save to thwart Bjarnason from point-blank range after the ball had broken to the Icelandic midfielder inside the area.

Newcastle soon began to push for a third goal, though, and Sam Johnstone was forced into a trio of saves in quick succession to deny Ritchie, Mitrovic and Jack Colback from adding to the home side's lead.

Villa's miserable evening went from bad to worse in the closing stages when Hogan landed badly on his ankle after competing for an aerial ball and needed to be stretchered off, forcing the visitors to end the game with 10 men.

With the goal-shy Villans amongst the lowest scorers in the division, it was exactly what Bruce did not need as his big-money January signing was carried off with what looked like a serious injury.

There was to be no further damage for the visitors as Newcastle comfortably saw the game out, extending their unbeaten run to seven matches and moving back in front of title rivals Brighton & Hove Albion at the top of the table - not to mention eight points clear of third-placed Huddersfield Town.

Villa, meanwhile, have now won just two of their last 39 away games in all competitions, including a run of six straight defeats on the road, during which time they have scored just one goal.

Bruce's side have now picked up just one point from a possible 24 in the Championship since the turn of the year, leaving them only six clear of the relegation zone - a gap which could be cut to four should Wigan Athletic beat Queens Park Rangers tomorrow night.

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