NewcastleNewcastle United4PrestonPreston North End1

Newcastle United 4-1 Preston North End

By Phil CartwrightBBC Sport
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



Formation 4-4-1-1

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


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


Formation 4-3-3

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


  • 1Lindegaard
  • 2Vermijl
  • 7Horgan
  • 10Beckford
  • 18Pringle
  • 21May
  • 37Robinson
Andy Madley

Match Stats

Home TeamNewcastleAway TeamPreston
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

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

  2. Full Time

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

  3. Post update

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

  4. Post update

    Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Chris Maxwell.

  5. Post update

    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.

  6. Post update

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

  7. Post update

    Foul by Daryl Horgan (Preston North End).

  8. Post update

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

  9. Post update

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

  10. Post update

    Foul by Andrew Boyle (Preston North End).

  11. Post update

    Foul by Isaac Hayden (Newcastle United).

  12. Post update

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

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, Newcastle United. Daryl Murphy replaces Ayoze Pérez.

  14. Post update

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

  15. Booking

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

  16. Post update

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

  17. Post update

    Foul by Alan Browne (Preston North End).

  18. Post update

    Foul by Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle United).

  19. Post update

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

  20. Post update

    Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Daryl Horgan.


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