Newcastle United booked their spot in next year's Premier League with a 4-1 win over Preston North End on Monday. The win assured the Magpies of a top-two finish in this year's Championship and that they'll avoid the play-offs. Brighton & Hove Albion have already secured promotion.
B/R Football welcomed the Magpies back:
Ayoze Perez opened the scoring early on and added a second goal, while Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie also got in on the fun. Preston finished the match with 10 players.
Here's a look at the table:
|19||Queens Park Rangers||44||14||8||22||50||62||-12||50|
As expected, Newcastle came out firing, with the fans at St. James' Park creating a phenomenal atmosphere. It took the hosts just seven minutes to take the lead, with Perez tapping home the opener.
But fans who thought the visitors would fold had only a few minutes to celebrate before Jordan Hugill equalised after a wonderful counter. The team's Twitter account showed their ecstatic reaction:
Preston stopper Chris Maxwell had a few nervy moments on some of Newcastle's crosses, but he also made a fantastic save to deny Aleksandar Mitrovic a goal after 20 minutes. Hugill and Tom Barkhuizen had their chances as well, as the visitors grew into the half.
But shortly before half-time, a perfect counter resulted in Mitrovic playing in Atsu with a fantastic pass, and the speedster didn't hesitate. Per football writer Kristan Heneage, it was Newcastle at their best:
Preston were too sloppy at the back to have any chance of challenging Newcastle in the second half, and the visitors were lucky Maxwell was on hand to deny Perez another goal. It hardly mattered, as Paul Gallagher handled the ball on the line in an effort to stop a certain goal, giving away a penalty and earning himself a red card.
Dave Seddon of the Lancashire Evening Post didn't lose his sense of humour:
Ritchie converted the penalty to give his team a two-goal lead they were unlikely to surrender with the one-man advantage.
Just a couple of minutes later, Perez found the net for a second time, although he probably didn't know it, as the ball took a lucky bounce off the Spaniard after Jonjo Shelvey's corner struck the post.
Per B/R Football, the battle was over:
Newcastle spent just one season outside the Premier League, and their return to the highest level of English football was a welcome sight for the historic club.
There's plenty of work to do for the Magpies, however. The team invested heavily during the summer, but the bulk of the purchases were made specifically with promotion in mind. In order to avoid another relegation battle, manager Rafael Benitez will need to get his new additions spot on.
The rest of the Championship's top clubs will fight it out for spots in the play-offs, with one more Premier League ticket on the line.