Rafael Benitez has heaped praise on Newcastle's star striker Dwight Gayle

Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle in action with Bristol City's Mark Little

It was yet another fantastic evening in the Championship for Newcastle as they beat Barnsley to go top of the league.

Newcastle United manager Rafael BenitezNewcastle United manager Rafael Benitez

Newcastle took control of the Championship as their much awaited arrival at the top of the table finally happened. Two goals from Dwight Gayle proved enough to see the Magpies past Barnsley, with the striker hitting top form this season. With Gayle once again on target, Rafael Benitez spoke to the Chronicle about his supremely talented striker.

Gayle has now taken his tally for the season to 11 goals, three clear of his nearest rival and he actually has four goals in his last two games.

With stern competition up front from Aleksandar Mitrovic, Gayle was always going to have to hit top form early and stay there, however, he has gone past any expectations as he continues to wreck havoc on opposition teams.

Against Barnsley he was outstanding as he used his pace and intelligence to get in behind the opposition defence, while his soft touches and good passing allowed Newcastle to move the ball around quickly as they looked to maintain the pressure.

Newcastle's Dwight Gayle celebrates scoring their third goalNewcastle's Dwight Gayle celebrates scoring their third goal

The one concern for Benitez is Gayle's height, or lack there of. However, the striker is so adept at pre-empting where the ball will go and getting into the right position that it often does not matter. The manager will also cite that if an aerial presence is needed, then Mitrovic can be used in his stead.

Benitez paid tribute to his free scoring striker too as, speaking to the Chronicle, he said: "We knew that he could score goals. We were impressed in the beginning because he scored goals in the training sessions".

"He is working hard and it’s not easy to see both things at the same time, goals and work. He is enjoying himself and doing really well".

However, Benitez did not claim that all of the praise belonged to Gayle, as he said: "It was a team effort. We were solid because everybody knew what they had to do".

Dwight Gayle celebrates scoring the second goal for Newcastle UnitedDwight Gayle celebrates scoring the second goal for Newcastle United

It has been vital for Newcastle that the entire team started to gel quickly in the Championship as it is a league that is very easy to get left behind in. 

It is also interesting to note that Gayle has scored four goals in his last two games, with Jonjo Shelvey starring in both matches.

The sparkling line up of talent that Newcastle can field against their opposition has finally begun to fire this campaign, and it looks like Newcastle will be a very difficult team to stop from here.

Newcastle manager Rafael BenitezNewcastle manager Rafael Benitez

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