Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez was rewarded for recalling two-goal striker Dwight Gayle to his starting line-up in the 2-0 win at Leeds.
Gayle scored in either half to lift Newcastle five points clear at the top of the Sky Bet Championship after a club record-equalling ninth straight win in all competitions and Benitez said it had been a tough call to drop Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Former Crystal Palace forward Gayle, 26, a £10million summer signing, took his goals tally for the season to 13 two days after it was reported he had been punched unconscious during a night out in Liverpool last week while celebrating team-mate Jamal Lascelles’ birthday.
“It’s quite difficult for me to decide whether I play Mitrovic or him because they’re both training really well and both scoring goals,” Benitez said.
“I have a lot of confidence in both, it’s not a problem because you have to analyse how they are in the training sessions.
“Dwight was training with us and not with the national team like Mitrovic, so it’s always an advantage.
“But Mitrovic is training really well and it was a great goal (for Serbia) against Wales.”
The Magpies have won eight consecutive league games for the first time since 1992 under Kevin Keegan and Gayle’s double – the first on the back of a Rob Green howler – secured a ninth successive victory in all competitions.
“Yeah they told me and I’m really pleased,” Benitez said. “Obviously when you win you want to win as many games as you can, but you can’t do it if it’s just one game at a time.
“We need to concentrate and get three points each time and after that you can see the records, people will tell me.
“But every game in the Championship is so difficult we have to be sure the approach is right.”
Leeds were aggrieved to have had two first-half penalty appeals turned down by referee Graham Scott.
There did not appear to be any contact when Leeds left-back Charlie Taylor went down in the area in the 40th minute, but the home side felt they had a cast-iron case three minutes later when Ronaldo Vieria’s shot hit Jack Colback’s raised arm.
Benitez said: “You can talk about that for half an hour but it wouldn’t change too much because in the end we (played) a good game against a good team.”
But Leeds boss Garry Monk felt it was a clear penalty and said his side had been unlucky with several key decisions.
“The game was decided on critical moments, to be honest with you,” Monk said.
“Against a side who are top we competed very well. Our attitude and commitment to what we were doing was very good.
“I just felt we got on the wrong side of those critical moments and had we not, we would probably have got a result.”
The former Swansea boss added: “In my opinion it’s a clear-cut penalty. I’ve had many penalties given against myself or my team for much less than that. It was a clear-cut penalty.
“But those critical moments, we fell the wrong side of today.”