Newcastle United secured their return to the Premier League on Monday evening, with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Preston North End.
The writing was on the wall for Rafa Benitez’s side early at St James’ Park, as Ayoze Perez gave the hosts the lead after just seven minutes, tapping in from close range.
Preston hit back shortly after, with Jordan Hugill directing an expertly aimed volley to finish from Tom Barkhuizen’s cleverly weighted ball.
Nonetheless, moments before half-time, Christian Atsu restored the Magpies’ lead, finishing an excellent counter-attacking move after Aleksandar Mitrovic’s pass left him with the goal at his mercy.
Things went from bad to worse for Simon Grayson’s side, when midfielder Paul Gallagher – who subsequently received a red card – saved Isaac Hayden’s shot on the line. Matt Ritchie stepped up to convert the resulting penalty for the hosts.
— The Boot Room (@tbrfootball) April 24, 2017
With Preston reduced to 10-men, Perez soon grabbed his second goal, and Newcastle’s fourth of the evening, bundling in on the goal line after Jonjo Shelvey’s corner cannoned off the post.
This was a game that promised a party and it duly delivered. The Magpies ended proceedings having dominated possession (68%), while managing 20 shots (six on target) to their opponent’s six.
Three points ensures Newcastle can finish no lower than second place this term, which ensures an automatic promotion spot and a quick-fire return to the English top flight. Preston, meanwhile, remain in 11th, with 61 points.