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).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
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

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable