Joy for Rafael Benitez as Newcastle United seal return to Premier League at first time of asking

Ross McLean
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Newcastle United v Preston North End - Sky Bet Championship
Ayoze Perez netted twice as Newcastle beat Preston to seal automatic promotion (Source: Getty)

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez expressed his pride after the Magpies thrashed Preston North End 4-1 to secure a return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Two close-range finishes from Ayoze Perez, a Christian Atsu breakaway strike and Matt Ritchie penalty ensured Newcastle sealed the maximum points they needed, rendering Jordan Hugill’s strike for the visitors a mere consolation.

The north east outfit still have the chance to chase down leaders Brighton and claim the Championship title, although promotion was the priority for Benitez.

“From the last day of last season when we played Tottenham I wanted to show my loyalty to everyone here and try to rebuild a new team with the motivation to go up first time,” said Benitez.

“It is so difficult when you go down from the Premier League and have to rebuild a team. But I am really proud of the players and the staff.

“We had to fight from the beginning and play very good football sometimes, not so good other times. But in the end we won and go up.”

Newcastle trail Brighton by four points with matches against Cardiff and Barnsley to play. Brighton need one victory from their remaining two games to clinch the title.

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