Championship, Gayle hat-trick ruins Rotherham – The72 Championship Team of the Week #23

Gayle hat-trick ruins Rotherham – The72 Championship Team of the Week #23

Leeds United’s stunning second-half comeback against Aston Villa on Sunday maintained their place at the top of the Sky Bet Championship this weekend.

Norwich City maintained their pressure on league leaders Leeds with a 1-0 victory against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.

West Bromwich Albion were the weekend’s biggest winners, thumping Rotherham United 4-0 at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Like their fellow West Midlands counterparts, Birmingham City excelled on their Saturday travels, beating Wigan Athletic 3-0 at the DW Stadium.

Ipswich Town’s recent run of results also continued as they held play-off chasers Sheffield United to a 1-1 draw at Portman Road.

Using’s match rating statistics, here is our Championship Team of the Week as the division reached its halfway stage in the season.

Formation: 5-2-3

Goalkeeper: Niki Maenpaa (Bristol City) 7.87

Bristol City goalkeeper Niki Maenpaa was their top performer as they held Derby County to a 1-1 draw at Pride Park.

The 33-year-old made seven saves to prevent the Rams from beating the Robins for a fifth consecutive meeting between these two sides.

Defence: Michael Hector (Sheffield Wednesday) 8.08

Less than 24 hours after Sheffield Wednesday sacked manager Jos Luhukay, they returned to winning ways by beating Preston North End 1-0 at Hillsborough.

Chelsea loanee Michael Hector got the winning goal shortly after the hour mark, his first for the Owls. Hector also made three tackles and five clearances to win the star man award in the steel city.

Defence: Toni Leistner (Queens Park Rangers) 8.62

Queens Park Rangers were surprising 1-0 winners over Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Saturday.

Centre-back Toni Leistner got QPR’s winning goal on the stroke of half-time, as well as making nine clearances and winning four aerial duels to win the star man award at the home of the two-time European Cup winners.

Defence: Pontus Jansson (Leeds United) 8.97

Leeds centre-back Pontus Jansson played a key role in the Whites’ stunning Sunday comeback to win 3-2 against Villa away from home.

As well as netting the equalising goal midway through the second half, Jansson also won 10 aerial duels and made the joint-most interceptions out of any player (four).

Defence: Michael Morrison (Birmingham City) 8.20

One of two Birmingham defenders to feature in this week’s side is Michael Morrison, who netted the Blues’ second goal of the match on the stroke of half time.

His defensive contributions included winning six aerial duels and making six clearances, as Garry Monk’s side kept their first clean sheet against Wigan since Boxing Day 2013.

Defence: Harlee Dean (Birmingham City) 8.23

Alongside Morrison in the heart of the Birmingham back line was Harlee Dean, who helped form defensive solidarity that Wigan failed to overcome.

As well as winning six aerial duels, Dean also made more clearances than any other players (eight) and his total of four interceptions was only bettered by defensive club colleague, Wes Harding.

Midfield: Said Benrahma (Brentford) 8.57

Brentford overcame their recent poor form with a 1-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers at Griffin Park, courtesy of Neal Maupay’s second-half goal.

Assisting the young French forward was winger Said Benrahma, who also had the second-highest passing accuracy percentage of players to start in West London (91%); he also completed six key passes, the same amount that was managed by all 14 players to have played for Bolton combined.

Midfield: Jarrod Bowen (Hull City) 8.17

Hull City winger Jarrod Bowen inspired a second-half fightback for the Tigers as they beat Swansea City 3-2 during Saturday’s evening kick-off at the KCOM Stadium.

He scored twice in the space of 10 minutes for Nigel Adkins’ side, and if his penalty in the first half had not have been saved by Erwin Mulder, the 22-year-old would have netted a first senior career hat-trick.

Forward: Dwight Gayle (West Bromwich Albion) 9.60

Striker Dwight Gayle was the hero for Darren Moore’s side as his hat-trick sunk the Millers to their heaviest league defeat since the opening day of the season.

It was Gayle’s first league trio of goals since December 2016, where his former side Newcastle were 4-0 winners over Birmingham and the striker’s standout performance against Rotherham on Saturday makes him this week’s Player of the Week.

Forward: Lukas Jutkiewicz (Birmingham City) 8.46

Despite not scoring in Birmingham’s 3-0 win away at Wigan, striker Lukas Jutkiewicz provided two of Monk’s side’s goals as they moved to within three points of the play-off places.

Jutkiewicz now has 10 goals and six assists in the league this season, a total only bettered by Brentford striker Maupay (14 goals and six assists).

Forward: Harvey Barnes (West Bromwich Albion) 8.51

West Brom winger Harvey Barnes completed the scoring in Yorkshire with his 20th-minute goal coming in between Gayle’s rout.

Barnes completed the same number of dribbles as Rotherham’s starting team (four) and he also made two key passes, warranting him his highest match rating since his starring role during a 4-2 win over Bristol City in September.

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