Newcastle seal Premier League return

Rafa Benitez guides the club back to the top flight

Newcastle, Rafa Benitez,

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez celebrates promotion after the Sky Bet Championship match at St James' Park, Newcastle. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/PA Images

Newcastle United have sealed their return to the Premier League at the first attempt.

The Magpies, who were relegated from the top flight at the end of last season, beat Preston North End 4-1 to move nine points clear of the playoff places with two English Championship matches to go.

Rafa Benitez's side join Brighton & Hove Albion, who had already sealed promotion and are in pole position to go up win the second tier title.

Newcastle knew victory over Preston would seal promotion and they took a 1-0 lead after seven minutes at St James Park through Ayoze Perez.

But Preston who had Ireland internationals Aiden McGeady, Andy Boyle and Irish midfielder Alan Browne in their starting XI and then Daryl Horgan off the bench, equalised through Jordan Hugill.

But Newcastle restored their lead through Ghanaian winger Christian Atsu just prior to half time, before Matt Ritchie converted a penalty after Paul Gallagher was sent off for handball on the goal-line.

Perez added a fourth goal with 23 minutes to seal a 4-1 win and promotion.