Wood strikes three times for Forest as strugglers surge away from drop zone, Liverpool leapfrog Arsenal into first
Nottingham Forest have climbed out of the Premier League’s relegation zone on the back of a high-class hat-trick by New Zealand captain Chris Wood.
The former Newcastle United striker’s treble stunned his previous club to prompt much talk of ghosts of Christmas Past.
The win meant Luton stayed in the bottom three despite a 3-2 win at Sheffield United aided by two own goals.
At the other end of the table Liverpool won 2-0 at Burnley to leapfrog Arsenal into first place. Arsenal host West Ham on Thursday.
Elsewhere Bournemouth continued their fine form with a 3-0 defeat of Fulham on the south coast.
Newcastle had taken the lead at St James Park through a 23rd-minute Alexander Isak penalty.
Wood levelled in first-half injury-time, tapping in following a counter-attack, then scored two fine individual goals in seven minutes early in the second half.
The victory snapped a seven-match winless league run and gave new manager Nuno Espirito Santo his first win at the club. Newcastle, however, remain seven points adrift of the top four Champions League qualifying places after a fourth defeat in five league games.
Wood had scored once in 20 appearances for Newcastle at the ground. Asked if the 32-year-old could become prolific this season, Espirito Santo said: “I think so, I really believe so.
“He did it last week, today he did it again. It’s about the team helping, so it’s not only him. I’m very happy with him now.”
Sheffield United were on course for an important victory as goals from Oli McBurnie and Anel Ahmedhodzic overturned Alfie Doughty’s first-half opener for the Hatters.
But Carlton Morris came off the bench to create two own goals in four minutes with Jack Robinson and Anis Slimane both putting through their own net.
The match was notable for being the first Premier League match to be officiated by a black referee for 15 years in Sam Allison. However, this landmark was soured by Luton’s Morris being racially abused by a Sheffield fan with the incident reported to police.
Liverpool dominated at Turf Moor taking the lead after six minutes with a rare but well-struck Darwin Nunez goal. A series of chances were spurned, wiped out by VAR, or thudded against the bar, before, in the 90th minute, the returning Diego Jota secured their seventh successive Boxing Day victory.
At Bournemouth Alex Scott set up Justin Kluviert’s opener just before half-time.
Dominic Solanke then scored his 12th goal of the season when he convcerted Bournemouth’s first penalty for more than 600 days after Joao Palhinha fouled Antoine Semenyo shortly after the hour mark.
Luis Sinisterra put the icing on the cake with a third goal in stoppage time.