Chris Wood hits superb hat-trick as Nottingham Forest add to Newcastle woes

Big striker scores treble against former club to earn Nuno Espirito Santo his first win since taking over as manager

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Chris Wood scored a superb hat-trick against his former club as Nottingham Forest added to Newcastle United's miserable December by winning 3-1 at St James' Park.

Newcastle had taken the lead courtesy of an Alexander Isak penalty in the 23rd minute but Forest deservedly levelled when Wood tapped home an Antony Elanga cross in first-half injury-time.

Minutes earlier, Forest has missed a chance to level when Elanga decided to shoot instead of squaring the ball to his teammate.

Forest made it 2-1 in the 53rd minute after a magnificent run and finish from Wood who only left Tyneside during the summer in a £15 million deal following a loan spell at the City Ground.

And the 32-year-old New Zealand international completed his treble seven minutes later when he rounded Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka before finishing calmly to seal the team's first win under new manager Nuno.

“We needed three points and it was fantastic for the side to get it,” said Wood, whose team moved up to 16th in the table after ending a seven-game winless run in what was manager Nuno Espirito Santo's second game in charge.

“This is a tough place to come. The boys did extremely well. We felt like we did well in the second half, we felt like we were the better side. Nice to get the three points," said Wood.

“We showed we have quality in this team and a team that will work hard.

“I don't mind where I score. It is nice coming back to Newcastle, I really enjoyed my time here, it is a great bunch of lads and staff.”

Wood's third goal on the hour knocked the stuffing out of Newcastle and the home crowd who saw their team lose at home in the Premier League for only the second time this season.

But the Magpies have now lost five times in their last seven games in all competitions and the latest defeat leaves them seven points adrift of the top four in seventh place.

It has been a disastrous month for Eddie Howe's team, who were knocked out of the Champions League after finishing bottom of their group – also missing out on the consolation of a Europa League spot – and the League Cup quarter-finals following a penalty shoot-out defeat at Chelsea.

Next up they face a daunting visit to title-chasing Liverpool on New Year's Day followed by an FA Cup third-round clash away to local rivals Sunderland.

“We have been playing two games a week, week after week and some players aren't used to that,” said captain Kieran Trippier.

“My standards have dropped. I'm old enough to speak about myself and my standards have been nowhere near. I've faced enough setbacks in my career to know I can bounce back.

“The most important thing is we regroup and stick together. We have to start the second half of the season strong.”

It had all looked a different story when Newcastle opened the scoring when Isak was tripped in the area by Ola Aina and the Sweden striker confidently placed the penalty past Matt Turner for his 10th goal this season.

Elanga then wasted two good chances to equalise for Forest when he fired into the side-netting and shot straight at Dubravka moments later when a pass to the unmarked Wood looked the better option.

Making amends for his earlier mistake, Elanga was the provider as he took Morgan Gibbs-White's pass and cut back a low cross that Wood finished from close-range.

“It changes everything doesn't it?,” Nuno said of the goal. “We had a good chance before, the same situation with Anthony Elanga but he decided to finish it [instead of passing]. Less said about that [the better].”

Isak should have restored Newcastle's advantage seconds later, but his header lacked the power to beat Turner.

Gibbs-White then nodded inches past the post immediately after the interval and, in keeping with their lively opening to the second half, Forest soon snatched the lead.

Elanga was the catalyst again with a superb through-ball and Wood did the rest, twisting and turning until he had space to guide a cool finish past Dubravka.

Wood was in the mood and he completed his hat-trick on the hour, surging on to Murillo's pass and slaloming around Dubravka to slot home.

Updated: December 26, 2023, 5:36 PM