Friday 17 November 2017

Magpies confirm swift return to top flight

Newcastle 4 Preston 1

Preston’s Paul Gallagher handles on the line to give away a second-half penalty. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images
Preston’s Paul Gallagher handles on the line to give away a second-half penalty. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Ayoze Perez struck twice as Rafael Benitez succeeded in his mission to guide Newcastle back to the Premier League at the first attempt with a victory over 10-man Preston.

Perez set the ball rolling after just seven minutes and although Jordan Hugill swiftly restored parity, Christian Atsu calmed nerves with a second goal on the stroke of half-time.

Matt Ritchie's 65th-minute penalty after Paul Gallagher had been dismissed for deliberate handball and a second from Perez ensured the Magpies could not be caught either on the night or in the automatic promotion sports, to the delight of the crowd of 50,212 at St James' Park.

Newcastle's return to the top flight was confirmed 348 days after arch-rivals Sunderland's 3-0 win over Everton condemned them to the drop as Benitez's decision to stay on was rewarded in style.

Preston - for whom Andy Boyle and Aiden McGeady started and introduced Daryl Horgan as a substitute for the latter - had threatened to spoil the party with some second-half pressure.

The game changed, however, with 25 minutes remaining when North End skipper Gallagher was dismissed for handling a shot on the line and gave Ritchie the opportunity to thump home the resulting penalty.

Newcastle's Ayoze Perez celebrates scoring their first goal with Aleksandar Mitrovic. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters
Newcastle's Ayoze Perez celebrates scoring their first goal with Aleksandar Mitrovic. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters
Newcastle's Matt Ritchie celebrates scoring their third goal. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters
Newcastle's Matt Ritchie celebrates scoring their third goal. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters

Irish Independent

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