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Player ratings as Wood hat-trick sinks former club

Chris Wood scored a hat-trick against his former club as Nottingham Forest secured a huge Boxing Day away win at Newcastle United.

The Magpies have been imperious on home soil in the Premier League this term, and it initially looked as if they’d stroll to a festive victory over the woefully out-of-form visitors. Forest, however, proved deadly on the counter-attack, and a couple of cultured Wood finishes saw them pull away in the second half.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s first win as Forest boss saw them pull away from the relegation zone, while Newcastle suffered their third defeat in four Premier League games.

How the game unfolded

The previous day’s merriment and an early kick-off made for a fairly subdued St James’ Park atmosphere as an unfamiliar Nottingham Forest XI took to the field.

Nuno opted to freshen things up in his second game at the helm, but the early signs were worrying. The visitors were bereft of ideas in possession, and while Newcastle weren’t exactly dominant, they did take an inevitable lead through Alexander Isak after he was brought down in the penalty area by Ola Aina. The Swede coolly converted from 12 yards.

Conceding first has rarely been a positive for Forest this term, but it was the team in red that appeared more threatening thereafter. The guile of Morgan Gibbs-White and speed of Anthony Elanga made for a troubling combination for the hosts, and it was those two who were key in drawing Forest level just before half-time. Former Magpie Wood tapped home from Elanga’s cross after some excellent work in transition from Gibbs-White.

It was a frantic end to the opening period, and a similar theme ensued after the restart with Forest well on top. Their spritely playmakers continued to shine, and they took a deserved lead as Wood grabbed his second goal – and what a wonderful finish it was. The Kiwi bagged his third soon after, rounding Martin Dubravka to give Forest a 3-1 lead.

The game remained end-to-end until its conclusion, and while Newcastle pushed to get back into the contest, they seemed consigned to their fate. You’re not getting anything from a game in which Chris Wood scores on three occasions.

Alexander Isak

Alexander Isak scored from the penalty spot in the first half / Stu Forster/GettyImages

GK: Martin Dubravka – 5/10 – Dubravka was dinked over and rounded during Wood’s hat-trick.

RB: Kieran Trippier – 5/10 – Combined well down the right, but couldn’t produce the killer delivery. Kept Wood onside for his third goal.

CB: Fabian Schar – 4/10 – Schar quite impressively allowed target man Wood to break into his channel and score on a couple of occasions. Overzealous at times with the ball.

CB: Sven Botman – 5/10 – The Dutchman certainly wasn’t the reason why Newcastle conceded three times.

LB: Dan Burn – 4/10 – Burn did not enjoy the battle with Elanga. The Swede had his way with Newcastle’s left-back, and Wood beat Burn one-v-one for his second goal.

CM: Bruno Guimaraes – 6/10 – Produced some lovely flicks down the right-hand side in the opening period, but that was about it.

CM: Lewis Miley – 8/10 – One of few Newcastle players that didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. Glided into space throughout, and it was his lovely reverse pass that led to their penalty.

CM: Sean Longstaff – 5/10 – Longstaff was on the periphery throughout and withdrawn with 20 minutes to go.

RW: Miguel Almiron – 4/10 – A pretty chaotic performance from Almiron at both ends of the pitch. It was his decision not to shoot that led to Forest’s opener, then the winger almost scored an own goal at the start of the second half.

ST: Alexander Isak – 8/10 – Dropped in from his striker position to overload Forest’s midfield and combined excellently for the most part. Effective on the half turn and was able to glide beyond opponents.

LW: Anthony Gordon – 5/10 – The winger only got a couple of sniffs in front of goal, and he wasn’t able to contribute to his impressive record at St James’ Park.


SUB: Tino Livramento (55′ for Burn) – 6/10

SUB: Callum Wilson (55′ for Almiron) – 5/10

SUB: Joelinton (71′ for Longstaff) – 6/10

SUB: Lewis Hall (79′ for Botman) – 4/10

Subs not used: Loris Karius (GK), Paul Dummett, Matt Ritchie, Emil Krafth, Alex Murphy.


Eddie Howe – 5/10 – This was a pretty flat Newcastle performance, with their drab away form finally permeating onto St James’. Howe surely had to start Tino Livramento over Burn to match Forest’s speed.

Chris Wood

Nuno’s Forest were superb at St. James’ / Stu Forster/GettyImages

GK: Matt Turner – 7/10 – The American made a couple of huge saves to preserve Forest’s lead, and he produced an assured showing with the ball at his feet.

RB: Gonzalo Montiel – 7/10 – An accomplished display from the World Cup hero despite picking up a booking. Montiel thrived when asked to defend on the front foot.

CB: Moussa Niakhate – 8/10 – Had the tough job of playing on the right as a left-footer, but Niakhate was superb after a rocky start. The defender made a crucial intervention on the goalline just after Wood gave the visitors a 3-1 lead.

CB: Murillo – 8/10 – A composed performer. There were times when the young Brazilian was caught out, but his courage in and out of possession has to be admired.

LB: Ola Aina – 6/10 – After a lazy opening, the two-footed full-back produced a fine second-half display, especially with the ball.

CM: Danilo – 6/10 – Struggled mightily in the first half, both with and without possession, but the Brazilian improved after the restart.

CM: Ibrahim Sangare – 7/10 – Picked up a booking for a foul on Isak, but grew into the game before his second-half withdrawal. Calm in tight spaces and counter-pressed to good effect.

RM: Anthony Elanga – 8/10 – Elanga was devastating in transition and crucial to Forest’s success. He instilled fear every time he drove into space. Played an excellent pass for Wood’s second.

AM: Morgan Gibbs-White – 9/10 – Wood will get plenty of plaudits, but Gibbs-White was the beating heart of this Forest display. He terrorised Newcastle on the counter, should’ve got on the scoresheet, and was relentless out of possession.

LM: Callum Hudson-Odoi – 6/10 – The former Chelsea academy star boasted a distinct threat, but he lacked conviction in the final third.

ST: Chris Wood – 9/10 – A performance nobody saw coming. Perhaps it’s Nuno, maybe he was just intent on heaping the misery on his former club? Wood was the hero for Forest on Boxing Day, and two of his finishes were exemplary.


SUB: Neco Williams (69′ for Montiel) – 6/10

SUB: Ryan Yates (69′ for Sangare) – 6/10

SUB: Nicolas Dominguez (79′ for Hudson-Odoi) – 6/10

SUB: Cheikhou Kouyate (90′ for Danilo) – N/A

SUB: Joe Worrall (90′ for Elanga) – N/A

Subs not used: Odysseas Vlachodimos (GK), Nuno Tavares, Orel Mangala, Divock Origi.


Nuno Espirito Santo – 8/10 – This was a brave performance from Forest, who didn’t merely sit in and contain Newcastle. They were rewarded for their courage, and Nuno deserves plenty of credit.

Player of the match: Chris Wood (Nottingham Forest)

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