Nolan kick-starts promotion party

Newcastle United 2 Sheffield United 1

After an absence of 316 days, Newcastle United returned to the Premier League with almost indecent haste last night. That they have done so by utterly dominating the Championship, despite exiting the top flight in disarray less than 12 months ago, underlined the worrying gulf between the top two tiers of English football. That, however, is a debate for another day. Last night was simply party Tyne.

Chris Hughton had been predicted by many to take Newcastle out of this division at the first time of asking. In the opposite direction. Kevin Keegan's first words after guiding the club into the top flight 17 years ago were something along the lines of "bring on Manchester United". Hughton, who celebrated promotion with a cup of coffee before moving onto something a little stronger, preferred to play up the players' contributions. "I'm not the most emotional person," the manager said. "That we've secured it with six games to spare is testament to the players and the season they've had. It's what we've been building towards all year."

His opposite number, Kevin Blackwell, was rather more forthright in his assessment of Hughton's achievement. "If you've not got balls then you won't get out of this division. Newcastle have shown they've got balls. They deserve to be in the Premier League and it's a terrific achievement."

Their Easter resurrection sealed before they had even kicked a ball in anger thanks to Nottingham Forest's inability to beat Cardiff, the mood on Tyneside was one more of reflecting on a job well done, rather than that of mass hysteria, such has been the inevitability of their elevation since Christmas. With promotion assured, ambition has now shifted to securing the title, which can be clinched at Reading next week.

Sheffield United, despite having little to play for last night, proved worthy opponents, even having the temerity to take the lead through Richard Cresswell's first-half header from a James Harper corner.

Peter Lovenkrands levelled from the penalty spot a minute before the break after Chris Morgan held back Andy Carroll at a corner. "If that was a penalty, they're going to be giving hundreds next season," a disgruntled Blackwell insisted.

In the second half, Jonas Gutierrez struck the post after covering half the length of the pitch, before Kevin Nolan capped a stand-out personal campaign with a 72nd-minute winner, his 14th goal of the season, courtesy of a fine overhead volley from 10 yards. "Kevin's been a massive presence for us this season, both on and off the pitch," Hughton added. "It was fitting he should get the winner."

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Harper; Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Enrique; Routledge, Nolan, Guthrie, Gutierrez; Lovenkrands, Carroll. Substitutes not used: Barton, R Taylor, Best, Butt, Ameobi, Krul (gk), Kadar.

Sheffield United (4-4-2): Simonsen; Nosworthy, Morgan, Seip, A Taylor; Williamson, Montgomery, Harper, Quinn; Cresswell, Henderson. Substitutes not used: Yeates, Bennett (gk), Bartley, Little, Geary, Fortune, Lowton.

Referee: A Hall (West Midlands).

Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas
footballChelsea vs West Ham live kicks off coverage of all 10 of Boxing Day matches
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all