Last night, Newcastle beat Preston North End 4-1 to mathematically seal promotion to the Premier League. Two goals from Ayoze Perez, one from Atsu, a Matt Ritchie penalty, and a Jordan Hugill strike made up the score.
Rafa Benitez fielded a side of Rob Elliot in net; Vurnon Anita, Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark, and Paul Dummett in defence; Matt Ritchie, Isaac Hayden, Jonjo Shelvey, and Christian Atsu in midfield; with Ayoze Perez, Aleksander Mitrovic up front.
Rafa’s opposite number Simon Grayson played a side consisting of Maxwell, Browning, Boyle, Huntington, Spurr, Browne, Gallagher, Johnson, McGeady, Hugill, and Barkhuizen.
Newcastle got their first chance when a ball over the top reached the head of Mitrovic but the header was from too tight of an angle to be threatening. Newcastle then broke the deadlock three minutes later when Perez turned the ball into the net after a scramble in the box, 1-0 to United. A few minutes later, Johnson raced through on goal after Anita was caught out of position, but a super save from Elliot stopped the attack. Just under 10 minutes later, Barkhuizen put a lovely cross into the box which Hugill flicked into the box. By now Preston had 7 to 8 players behind the ball at all times which Newcastle found very difficult to break down. After a mix-up in midfield and a surging run from Hayden into the box, Mitrovic played a great pass across the box which Atsu calmly finished. The Toon went into half time 2-1 up.
20 minutes into the second half something bizarre happened. Midfielder Gallagher dived across the box and pushed the ball away from the net, denying a certain goal. Ritchie then put the penalty away, cool as you like. The home side then sealed the match after Shelvey’s corner bounced off of Perez and into the net, the Spaniard’s second of the night. Pure elation when the final whistle went. After a long, hard season this great club Newcastle United are finally back where they belong.
Feature image credit: Martin Le Roy