Preston North End 1 Newcastle United 2: Mitrovic fires club to victory at Deepdale

Aleksandar Mitrovic, left

Aleksandar Mitrovic, left

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Aleksandar Mitrovic fired Newcastle United to a 2-1 win over Preston North End this afternoon.

The striker netted two second-half goals at Deepdale as Rafa Benitez's side, without injured leading scorer Dwight Gayle, maintained their three-point lead at the top of the Championship.

Mitrovic had also scored two goals in Tuesday night's 6-0 EFL Cup win over Preston at St James's Park.

The strikes took his tally for the season in all competitions to five.

Second-placed Brighton and Hove Albion, meanwhile, beat Norwich City 5-0, while Huddersfield Town were beaten at Fulham by the same scoreline.

READ MORE: Rafa Benitez explains Jesus Gamez’s long absence at Newcastle

United were made to work for the points at Deepdale, where they faced a very different Preston team.

The home team had the better of the first half, though United did have a penalty appeal waved away after Mitrovic was pulled down in the box by Tom Clarke.

Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles cleared a header from Bailey Wright off the line just after the half-hour mark.

Simon Grayson's side continued to push after the break, and goalkeeper Karl Darlow did well to stop a shot from Paul Gallagher.

Mitrovic and Hayden put chances wide at the other end of the pitch before United got the all-important first goal in the 59th minute.

A ball forward from Matt Ritchie was helped on towards Mitrovic, who beat Chris Maxwell with a precise finish.

And it got better for Newcastle in the 71st minute when Mitrovic prodded the ball home after initially having a header stopped.

Preston substitute Jermaine Beckford netted a late consolation for the home side, who also struck the post and had a penalty appeal turned down in added time.

PRESTON NORTH END: Maxwell, Baptiste, Clarke, Wright, Cunningham, Gallagher, Pearson, Johnson, Pringle (Beckford, 72), Robinson (Vermijl, 86), Hugill (Makienok, 83). Subs not used: Lindegaard, Spurr, Huntington, Doyle.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Darlow; Yedlin (Hanley, 90), Lascelles, Clark, Dummett; Shelvey, Hayden; Ritchie (Atsu, 89), Diame, Gouffran; Mitrovic (Perez, 86). Subs not used: Sels, Lazaar, Anita, Gamez.

Goals: Mitrovic 59, 71

Bookings: Robinson 61, Pearson 63, Johnson 64, Hayden 76, Mitrovic 84, Ritchie 89

Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Lancashire)

Attendance: 20,724

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