Ayoze Perez leads Newcastle to comfortable win
Newcastle went three points clear at the top of the Championship after an emphatic 3-0 win over Ipswich at St James' Park.
Two goals from Ayoze Perez and one from Matt Ritchie gave Rafael Benitez's side their fifth consecutive league win and saw them open a gap at the top of the table after Norwich lost at home to Preston.
Benitez made three changes from the side that won at Barnsley on Tuesday night with DeAndre Yedlin, Jack Colback and Ayoze Perez coming into the side for Vurnon Anita, Isaac Hayden and Mo Diame.
The visitors also made three changes to their line-up with Jonathan Douglas, Conor Grant and Grant Ward replacing Cole Skuse, Kevin Bru and Teddy Bishop.
After going top of the table for the first time in midweek, the Magpies came out flying at St James' Park and were ahead within a minute.
Mick McCarthy's men had not even touched the ball when Perez fired a low volley past Bartosz Bialkowski after Dwight Gayle had flicked on a Paul Dummett cross.
It should have been two with seven minutes on the clock when Yedlin's cross found Gayle in the box, but the in-form striker hit his shot into the ground and the ball bounced over the bar.
The hosts had made a dominant start but they were almost brought back down to earth when former Magpies striker Leon Best turned and fired against the bar with 10 minutes gone.
Newcastle enjoyed the bulk of possession in the first half, but Adam Webster provided a warning that the visitors were still in it when he ran the length of the pitch unchallenged and fired just wide of the post.
There was a strong appeal for a penalty to the home side after Gayle broke the offside trap and went down under Bialkowski's challenge, but referee James Adcock waved play on with 10 minutes of the first half left.
The Magpies remained on top after the break, but McCarthy's men dug deep to stay in the game.
Bialkowski made a strong save to deny Yoan Gouffran, before Ipswich replied with an effort from half-time substitute David McGoldrick that was saved by Karl Darlow.
Midway through the second half, Newcastle began to turn the screw as they looked for a second and it finally came in the 73rd minute.
Ritchie sent a superb cross into the box and Perez finished with a lovely controlled volley for his second of the game.
Perez turned provider for Newcastle's third five minutes later when he teed up Ritchie inside the area and he finished into the far bottom corner with the outside of his boot to seal a deserved win for the hosts.