Chris Wood scored a hat-trick on his return to St James’ Park as Nottingham Forest ended a seven-game winless run with a stunning Premier League victory at Newcastle.

The result moves Forest up to 16th in the table and five points clear of the bottom three prior to Tuesday’s other fixtures.

Alexander Isak had seemingly put Eddie Howe’s side in control when he stroked home a penalty midway through the first half after going down under a challenge from Ola Aina.

But Newcastle only sporadically threatened in attack and always looked vulnerable to a rejigged Forest side set up to counter-attack at pace.

Morgan Gibbs-White dragged an early effort wide for the visitors, while Anthony Elanga missed two excellent opportunities before combining with the former England Under-21 midfielder to allow Wood to tap in a deserved equaliser against his old employers before the break.

Wood, who was Howe’s second signing on Tyneside, added to his tally shortly after the interval, racing on to Elanga’s pass and shimmying past home defender Dan Burn to lift the ball over goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

He capped a fine display with another composed finish after Murillo’s through ball sent him clear of an absent Newcastle defence.

Elanga and Gibbs-White both had chances to inflict further damage on the hosts, who remain seventh in the table after their fourth defeat in five Premier League games.

Wood and Gibbs-White star for revitalised Forest

Steve Cooper was sacked as Forest manager a week ago after presiding over a run of just one win in 13 top-flight games.

On this evidence, replacement Nuno Espirito Santo appears to have already begun to implement his own ideas to deliver some Christmas cheer to the City Ground.

Having made six changes to the starting XI that lost against Bournemouth on Saturday, he was rewarded by a purposeful display that saw Forest repeatedly cut through the visiting defence with some incisive counter-attacking.

Wood’s sharpness in front of goal belied the fact he was only starting his fifth league game of the season, having largely been utilised as a substitute by Cooper.

While the New Zealand striker will rightly take the plaudits for his match-winning contribution, others in red also excelled.

Forest captain Gibbs-White, who got the better of Bruno Guimaraes in midfield, could also arguably lay claim to being the game’s outstanding player and ought really to have capped a fine display with a couple of goals.

And aside from some wasteful finishing and a poor decision not to slide another first-half pass across to Wood, Elanga provided an excellent outlet for Forest on the right.

Kesh Awefada

Kesh Awefada

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