April 24 (Reuters) - Newcastle United sparked a noisy promotion party by beating 10-man Preston North End 4-1 at a packed St James’ Park on Monday to ensure a return to the Premier League at the first attempt.
Exactly 348 days after being relegated, Newcastle overcame their obvious nerves to bag a prize worth more than 100 million pounds ($127.92 million) and retain an outside chance of pipping Brighton & Hove Albion to the Championship title.
Two tap-ins from Ayoze Perez, a well-worked Christian Atsu goal and a Matt Ritchie penalty, after Preston’s Paul Gallagher was sent off for handling on the line just past the hour mark, warmed the crowd of 50,212 on a bitter Tyneside night.
The only alarm came after 14 minutes when Preston’s Jordan Hugill threatened to spoil the celebrations with a delightful flicked equaliser, but Spaniard Rafa Benitez’s side kept their cool to ensure they are only the second team in five years to return to the Premier League immediately after relegation.
Newcastle are four points behind Brighton with two games left.
$1 = 0.7817 pounds Reporting by Neil Robinson; editing by Ken Ferris