Championship
Newcastle4Preston1

Newcastle United 4-1 Preston North End

Ayoze Perez
Ayoze Perez scored twice as Newcastle confirmed a top-two finish in the Championship

Newcastle United secured an immediate return to the Premier League with a convincing home victory over Preston.

Christian Atsu put the Magpies 2-1 up at half-time after Jordan Hugill had cancelled out an Ayoze Perez opener.

On a tense evening at St James' Park, Newcastle nerves were settled when Preston's Paul Gallagher was sent off for handling on the line and Matt Ritchie scored the resulting penalty.

Perez got his second from close range to send Newcastle up with Brighton.

Rafael Benitez's side had taken only one point from their previous three matches, but their late-season wobble was not punished by their closest rivals.

Defeats for Reading and Huddersfield on Saturday left Newcastle needing one more win to guarantee a top-two finish.

Nerves were evident among the players and the crowd, which was in excess of 50,000, until Ritchie converted his spot-kick to stretch Newcastle's advantage against 10-man Preston with 25 minutes to play.

The hosts took advantage of poor Preston defending for all four goals, with Perez netting twice from corners and Atsu finishing a counter-attack in first-half stoppage time after North End had lost possession in midfield.

Rafael Benitez
Rafael Benitez saluted the Gallowgate End at St James' Park shortly after Newcastle's promotion was confirmed

Vindication for Benitez

Benitez had made a huge impression on Newcastle supporters in his two-month stint at St James' Park, despite being unable to save the Magpies from dropping out of the Premier League at the end of last season.

He was widely expected to leave a club destined for the Championship - he was, after all, a former Champions League winner with Liverpool and had been in charge of Spanish giants Real Madrid only two months before replacing Steve McClaren.

However, instead of activating the break clause allowing him to leave Newcastle in the event of relegation, the Spaniard chose to sign a three-year contract.

"The love I could feel from the fans was a big influence for me," said Benitez in May 2016, upon signing his new deal.

"This is a huge club and I wanted to be part of the great future I can see for Newcastle United. The main thing for me is that I have assurances that we will have a strong team - a winning team."

Rafael Benitez flag
Newcastle have won 34 of their 61 games in all competitions since Rafael Benitez became manager in March 2016

'A really important achievement'

Benitez told BBC Newcastle after the match: "I have to congratulate the players, the staff, everyone here in the club and city.

"In the end it was a very difficult task because it's a very difficult division and we had to keep going and pushing. There are a lot of things you cannot control but in the end we are where we wanted to be.

"This day is massive because everyone said at the beginning you have to go straight up. You know from experience it's not easy for any team, especially when you go down and have to change half the squad.

"I think it's a really important achievement for everyone involved because you have to keep strong mentally and keep going for so many months."

Aleksandar Mitrovic
Aleksandar Mitrovic (left) celebrates at the final whistle alongside goalscorer Christian Atsu

Newcastle forward Aleksandar Mitrovic, who had a number of chances to add to the scoreline against Preston, said: "Trust me, this team is really special. That's the reason why we made it in the end.

"I didn't believe when they told me this league was so hard, but for me this league, physically, is harder than the Premier League.

"We still have a chance to win the league but the most important thing is next year we have Premier League football here."

How promotion was won

Benitez was backed extensively in the transfer market and more than £50m was spent as one of the most expensive squads in Championship history was assembled.

Among the incomings were striker Dwight Gayle and winger Ritchie, who cost a combined £22m from Crystal Palace and Bournemouth respectively and have repaid their sizeable transfer fees with 34 league goals between them this term.

Newcastle recouped all of that outlay and more with the sales of high-profile players such as Moussa Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum and Andros Townsend to Premier League clubs.

As for those who stayed following relegation, they have also played their part in Newcastle's success.

Jonjo Shelvey, an England international as recently as November 2015, has featured in every league match he has been available for this season and been one of the team's main creative forces in midfield.

Dwight Gayle
Only Leeds' Chris Wood (25) and Bristol City's Tammy Abraham (23) have scored more Championship goals than Dwight Gayle in 2016-17

Comparisons to 2009-10

Newcastle secured promotion this term with two games to spare, but they will not match the achievements of the last Magpies side to go up from the second tier in 2009-10.

They had been relegated in 2009 with the club's record goalscorer Alan Shearer in caretaker charge - and began 2009-10 with Chris Hughton as caretaker manager.

After a positive start to the season, Hughton was given his first permanent managerial role in October and he led Newcastle to the title with 102 points from their 46 games - 23 points more than third-placed Nottingham Forest.

There was little investment in new players but the majority of the squad from the previous season remained. Captain Kevin Nolan led by example, scoring 17 league goals from midfield, a tally matched by emerging striker Andy Carroll.

Although promotion to the top flight has once again been achieved at the first opportunity, the Championship title is likely to elude Newcastle this time around.

Leaders Brighton - now managed by Hughton - will be crowned champions if they win either of their final two league matches.

Kevin Nolan lifts the Championship title in 2010
Newcastle finished 11 points clear of West Bromwich Albion to win the Championship title in 2009-10

Line-ups

Newcastle

  • 21Elliot
  • 8Anita
  • 6Lascelles
  • 2Clark
  • 3Dummett
  • 11RitchieBooked at 82mins
  • 14Hayden
  • 12ShelveyBooked at 56minsSubstituted forColbackat 76'minutes
  • 30AtsuSubstituted forGouffranat 68'minutes
  • 17PérezSubstituted forMurphyat 83'minutes
  • 45Mitrovic

Substitutes

  • 4Colback
  • 15Diamé
  • 18Mbemba
  • 20Gouffran
  • 22Yedlin
  • 26Darlow
  • 33Murphy

Preston

  • 22Maxwell
  • 6BrowningBooked at 27mins
  • 24Boyle
  • 23Huntington
  • 17Spurr
  • 8Browne
  • 12GallagherBooked at 63mins
  • 11Johnson
  • 14McGeadySubstituted forHorganat 72'minutes
  • 25Hugill
  • 29Barkhuizen

Substitutes

  • 1Lindegaard
  • 2Vermijl
  • 7Horgan
  • 10Beckford
  • 18Pringle
  • 21May
  • 37Robinson
Referee:
Andy Madley
Attendance:
50,212

Match Stats

Home TeamNewcastleAway TeamPreston
Possession
Home68%
Away32%
Shots
Home22
Away6
Shots on Target
Home7
Away2
Corners
Home16
Away1
Fouls
Home8
Away9

Live Text

Match ends, Newcastle United 4, Preston North End 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Newcastle United 4, Preston North End 1.

Attempt missed. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United) header from the centre of the box is too high.

Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Chris Maxwell.

Attempt saved. Yoan Gouffran (Newcastle United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Daryl Murphy.

Jack Colback (Newcastle United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Daryl Horgan (Preston North End).

Attempt blocked. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Paul Dummett.

Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Andrew Boyle (Preston North End).

Foul by Isaac Hayden (Newcastle United).

Tom Barkhuizen (Preston North End) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Newcastle United. Daryl Murphy replaces Ayoze Pérez.

Attempt missed. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high from a direct free kick.

Booking

Matt Ritchie (Newcastle United) is shown the yellow card.

Ayoze Pérez (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Alan Browne (Preston North End).

Foul by Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle United).

Paul Huntington (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Daryl Horgan.

Substitution

Substitution, Newcastle United. Jack Colback replaces Jonjo Shelvey.

Substitution

Substitution, Preston North End. Daryl Horgan replaces Aiden McGeady.

Attempt missed. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Ayoze Pérez.

Attempt blocked. Isaac Hayden (Newcastle United) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ayoze Pérez.

Substitution

Substitution, Newcastle United. Yoan Gouffran replaces Christian Atsu.

Goal!

Goal! Newcastle United 4, Preston North End 1. Ayoze Pérez (Newcastle United) with an attempt from very close range to the centre of the goal following a corner.

Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Tyias Browning.

Goal!

Goal! Newcastle United 3, Preston North End 1. Matt Ritchie (Newcastle United) converts the penalty with a left footed shot to the bottom left corner.

Dismissal

Paul Gallagher (Preston North End) is shown the red card.

Penalty conceded by Paul Gallagher (Preston North End) with a hand ball in the penalty area.

Attempt blocked. Isaac Hayden (Newcastle United) left footed shot from very close range is blocked.

Attempt saved. Ayoze Pérez (Newcastle United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Aiden McGeady.

Attempt blocked. Matt Ritchie (Newcastle United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Jordan Hugill.

Attempt blocked. Isaac Hayden (Newcastle United) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is blocked. Assisted by Jonjo Shelvey with a cross.

Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Tyias Browning.

Foul by Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle United).

Jordan Hugill (Preston North End) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Attempt blocked. Aiden McGeady (Preston North End) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Alan Browne.

goal

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Monday 24th April 2017

View all Championship results

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Brighton44288873383592
2Newcastle442771080404088
3Reading44247136362179
4Sheff Wed442391258431578
5Huddersfield43246135553278
6Fulham4421131082552776
7Leeds442271557431473
8Norwich441991678661266
9Brentford441891773611263
10Derby441712155048263
11Preston441613156361261
12Aston Villa441613154646061
13Cardiff441611175759-259
14Barnsley441512176363057
15Wolves431510185254-255
16Ipswich441316154854-655
17Bristol City44149215965-651
18Burton441312194658-1251
19QPR44148225062-1250
20Nottm Forest44139225970-1148
21Birmingham441114194264-2247
22Blackburn441015194964-1545
23Wigan441011233955-1641
24Rotherham4456333896-5821
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