Newcastle United are back in the Premier League after just a one year absence following a 4-1 win over Preston on Monday night.
Two goals from Ayoze Perez, one from Christian Atsu and a penalty from Matt Ritchie saw Rafa Benitez’s side move onto 88 points and stretch their lead over third-placed Reading to nine points with just two games left.
The win vindicates the decision by Benitez to stay at Newcastle following their relegation to the Championship from the top flight last season.
Benitez was given extensive backing in the transfer market following relegation and spent more than £50m assembling one of the most expensive squads in Championship history.
The Magpies are only the seventh team out of 18 to win promotion straight back to the Premier League up in the past six years.
They join Brighton – who won promotion to the top division for the first time in their history last week.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) April 24, 2017
Speaking to TV cameras after the game, Benitez said, “It wasn’t easy at all.”
“We had to fight from the start and played some very good football sometimes, some not so good at times, but in the end we go up.
“I think from the last day of the last season, I wanted to show my loyalty to everyone here.”
— Christian Atsu (@ChristianAtsu20) April 24, 2017
Asked about his future, he added, “I think I will have to analyse a lot of things, but I’m really pleased here.”
“So hopefully we can do what we have to do to be stronger in the Premier League.”