Newcastle United returned to the premier league Monday night following a convincing home victory over Preston.
Ayoze Perez opened scoring for Newcastle United but Jordan Hugill equalised for the visitors only for the on-loan Chelsea midfielder Christian Atsu to put the home team ahead at halftime.
On a tense evening at St James’ Park, Newcastle nerves were settled when Preston’s Paul Gallagher was sent off for handling on the line and Matt Ritchie scored the resulting penalty.
Perez got his second from close range to send Newcastle up with Brighton.
Nerves were evident among the players and the crowd, which was in excess of 50,000 until Ritchie converted his spot-kick to stretch Newcastle’s advantage against 10-man Preston with 25 minutes to play.
“This is a huge club and I wanted to be part of the great future I can see for Newcastle United. The main thing for me is that I have assurances that we will have a strong team – a winning team.”
Benitez told BBC Newcastle after the match: “I have to congratulate the players, the staff, everyone here in the club and city.
“In the end it was a very difficult task because it’s a very difficult division and we had to keep going and pushing. There are a lot of things you cannot control but in the end we are where we wanted to be.
“This day is massive because everyone said at the beginning you have to go straight up. You know from experience it’s not easy for any team, especially when you go down and have to change half the squad.
“I think it’s a really important achievement for everyone involved because you have to keep strong mentally and keep going for so many months.”