Newcastle United had one job last night – to win. A win that would mean so much to the fans and city. A win that could take them back up to the Premier League.

Now, finally, Newcastle United are officially a Premier League club once again. They beat a sturdy Preston North End side 4-1 last night. The win made them unreachable for the other promotion fighters.

United had been in a sticky patch recently and they came up against a well-organised PNE side who were sitting in 11th place. Newcastle needed to come racing out of the blocks to win this game.

A quick start was what we saw from Rafa’s men. They netted just 6 minutes in; Ayoze Perez fortunately tapped in from a Matt Ritchie corner. An early goal justified Newcastle’s quick start – they had several goalscoring chances before this goal.

Preston quickly equalised with some superb movement from Hugill to get in front of Ciaran Clark and stab it in past the returning Rob Elliot. That made the score 1-1 and a nervy first half awaited the hopeful Geordies.

Thankfully, a halfway line interception from Isaac Hayden started a counter attack. Hayden passed the ball to Mitrovic who excellently squared it to Christian Atsu. The Ghanaian loanee calmly placed the ball past Maxwell to put The Magpies 2-1 up.

In the second half, Preston’s captain, Paul Gallagher, decided to turn into Manuel Neuer. He dived on the goalline to save a certain Isaac Hayden goal with both hands and was correctly sent off. Matt Ritchie took the penalty and confidently slotted it past Maxwell into the bottom left-hand corner to make it 3-1.

If the Toon’s luck couldn’t get any greater, a corner cannoned off the post and hit Perez’s chest to make it 4-1. An extremely scrappy two goals from the young Spaniard – but they all count, right?

Now Newcastle United are guaranteed to go up to the Premier League and they’ve moved within four points of the Championship leaders Brighton And Hove Albion.

Below, I will rate each player who participated in last night’s encounter.

Rob Elliot – 7

Rob Elliot made a welcome return back to the first team as he replaced Karl Darlow in goal and did well to save Daniel Johnson’s early one-on-one chance.

 

He made some top saves to keep NUFC in the game. Unfortunately, he couldn’t keep a clean sheet on his return.

I think Elliot should be happy with his performance.

Vurnon Anita – 4

Vurnon Anita had a shaky start. He lost possession too many times and he struggled with Preston’s winger, Tom Barkhuizen.

In the second half, he improved. He played more simple balls and put in some good crosses.

Not the best performance from Vurnon Anita.

Jamaal Lascelles – 7

Thankfully, we didn’t see another dodgy performance from our skipper. Recently, Lascelles hasn’t been at his best but in this game, he was much improved.

Stu Forster/Getty Images Sport

Maybe Clark’s presence helped him along the way. He put in some good challenges through the whole game.

A better performance from our captain.

Ciaran Clark – 8

The Irishman had a typical Ciaran Clark performance;; strong, sturdy, calm. He assisted United’s first goal of the night.

You could argue that he was at fault for their goal but I don’t think many defenders would be able to handle Hugil’s superb, clever movement for that goal.

Paul Dummett – 7

Dummett was much improved from his Ipswich performance. He put in some teasing crosses for the Newcastle attackers and showed some good defensive tackles.

He managed Aiden Mcgeady well – the skilful winger didn’t make much of an impact on the game and that was mainly down to Paul Dummett.

Isaac Hayden – 8 

Hayden had a great game and made Newcastle tick in the middle of the park.

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He made some fantastic interceptions – one which set up Newcaslte’s goal. He will only get better next season.

Jonjo Shelvey – 7

Shelvey was his usual self. He sprayed balls all across the pitch.

He was handed a rest from manager Rafa Benitez half way through the second half. A good performance from Jonjo.

Matt Ritchie – 9 (MOTM)

Matt Ritchie deserved everything he got from that match – a real stellar performance.

Ritchie picked up Man Of The Match and thoroughly deserved it. Easily the best player at Newcastle United, in my opinion.

Christian Atsu – 8

Christian was a goalscorer last night. He worked hard before being replaced by Gouffran.

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A good attacking performance from Atsu – he showed great desire and determination to score NUFC’s second goal.

Ayoze Perez – 8

Perez stepped up in this match – he looked stronger on the ball and showed good dribbling technique.

He scored two very important goals and gave a much better overall performance. He came off to a standing ovation and was replaced by Daryl Murphy.

Aleksander Mitrovic – 7

Mitrovic had a few good shots which went wide or forced some good saves out of Maxwell.

 

He showed some good link up play with Ayoze Perez and he picked up an assist for the second goal. A good performance from the fan favourite.

Yoan Gouffran (for Atsu 68) – 7

He made some good passes forward and worked very hard when he came on in the 68th minute.

Jack Colback (for Shelvey 76) – N/A

Daryl Murphy ( for Perez 83) – N/A

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