Newcastle United are back in the Premier League after their comprehensive 4-1 win over 10-man Preston North End on Monday.
After Reading and Huddersfield went down to Nottingham Forest and Fulham on Saturday, Newcastle just needed a win against Simon Grayson’s men to confirm an instant return to the Premier League.
On a memorable night at St.James’ park, Ayoze Perez gave the hosts an early lead before the in-form Jordan Hugill’s delightful flick levelled the terms after 14 minutes.
Preston were threatening at times, but Christian Atsu put the Magpies up front in a first half-stoppage time that sent the fans in black and white into ecstasy.
With the Lilywhites fighting hard for an equalising goal in the second half, the headline moment of the match came when Paul Gallagher was given a straight red card for a handball on the line that stopped Issac Hayden’s goal-bound effort.
As a consequence of his sprawling dive, Newcastle was awarded a penalty, and it was tucked away calmly by the Scottish international Matt Ritchie.
Ayoze Perez grabbed his second goal on the night in the 67th minute, and in the end, the Magpies ensured a return to the top flight exactly 348 days after being relegated.
It was Newcastle’s 34th victory under Rafa Benitez since the Spaniard was appointed as a manager in March 2016.
In the post-match press conference, the former Real Madrid and Liverpool manager was delighted with his side’s promotion back to the Premier League, but when asked if he would still be in charge of the North East club next season, Benitez replied: “You never know, that’s football.”
With Benitez’s future at the club still uncertain, Newcastle United are four points behind already promoted Brighton, and are next in action against Cardiff City on Friday.
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