Gayle force damage for the Millers: Rotherham United 0-4 West Brom
Rotherham endured a Christmas nightmare as their nine-game unbeaten run at home was ended by a 4-0 defeat to West Brom.
The Millers had gone undefeated on their own patch since losing to Hull in August, but they were brushed aside by the promotion chasers as Dwight Gayle fired a hat-trick and Harvey Barnes also bagged.
The defeat should not be judged too harshly as they were up against a team whose wage budget dwarves the Millers' even more than usual in this league and for parts of the game, Paul Warne's men competed well.
It was just when the chances came for the Baggies they were clinical, starting with the opener in the sixth minute.
Gayle was fouled by Clark Robertson, then got up and struck a low 20-yard free-kick underneath the wall and past Marek Rodak.
The game might have had a different complexion had the Millers equalised soon after, but Ryan Manning's vicious effort struck the post and then Semi Ajayi's shot from the rebound was blocked.
That was as good as it got as the Baggies doubled their lead when Barnes struck home after Jay Rodriguez's shot hit the post.
It was game over before half-time as Gayle made it three when he stabbed home from Matt Phillips' free-kick.
Gayle completed his first hat-trick in West Brom colours thanks to a horrible mistake by Rodak, who spilled the ball out of his hands when trying to save a corner, allowing Gayle an easy tap-in.
Rotherham did try and get some respectability back, with Sam Johnstone producing a brilliant save to deny Michael Smith's header before the best chance came in the 76th minute.
Richie Towell was fouled in the area, but Manning's spot-kick hit the post.
That summed up the Millers' afternoon, though they did at least avoid a record defeat at the New York Stadium.
Rotherham: Rodak, Vyner, Ajayi, Robertson, Mattock (Williams 65), Forde, Vaulks, Towell, Manning, Newell (Taylor, 72), Smith (Proctor 80).
Unused subs: Price, Wood, Palmer, Taylor, Wiles
West Brom: Johnstone, Adarabioyo, Dawson, Hegazi, Gibbs, Livermore, Barry (Brunt, 58), Phillips (Morrison 78), Barnes, Gayle (Robson-Kanu 82) Rodriguez
Unused subs: Myhill, Mears, Harper, Sako
Referee: Tony Harrington
Attendance: 10,593 (2,597)