Rafa Benitez's delight after Newcastle beat Barnsley to deny faltering Brighton the Championship title

Frank Dalleres
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Newcastle United v Barnsley - Sky Bet Championship
Benitez praised all facets of his Newcastle team (Source: Getty)

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez hailed his team as deserved title-winners after they pipped Brighton to the Championship on a dramatic final day.

The Magpies 3-0 win over Barnsley saw them overtake Brighton, who conceded a costly 89th-minute equaliser at 10-man Aston Villa. Both teams had already guaranteed their promotion to the Premier League.

Benitez said: “We conceded less than anyone, we scored – along with Norwich and Fulham – more than the other teams, and even after losing two games at the start of the season we showed character.

Read more: Blackburn relegated as Blues and Forest survive on final day

“We did the right things, stayed calm and worked as hard as the others. We made less mistakes and we showed we were champions.”

Brighton boss Chris Hughton sought the silver lining after his team’s failure to win any of their last three games cost them the title.

Aston Villa v Brighton & Hove Albion - Sky Bet Championship
Brighton failed to win any of their last three matches (Source: Getty)

“Today is a negative day, but there are far more pluses,” said Hughton. “What these lads have achieved this season has been magnificent.”

Reading won 4-2 at Burton Albion to clinch third place, as fourth-placed Sheffield Wednesday suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Fulham, who finished sixth and will meet the Royals in the play-off semi-finals.

Fifth-placed Huddersfield, Wednesday’s opponents in the play-offs, lost 3-0 at home to Cardiff.

Play-off fixtures

13 May: Fulham v Reading, 5.30pm

14 May: Huddersfield v Sheff Wed, 12.00pm

16 May: Reading v Fulham, 7.45pm

17 May: Sheff Wed v Huddersfield, 7.45pm

29 May: Final, 3.00pm

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