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Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League

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Two sides have now booked their trips to England’s top flight after Newcastle United rattled off its 27th win of the season.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu — The perfectly poised destroyer ]

The Magpies earned a decisive 4-1 victory over Preston North End on Monday afternoon at St. James’ Park as the second-place side ensured its finish inside the top two in the English Championship.

Newcastle joins already-promoted club Brighton & Hove Albion, who currently sit atop the Championship on 92 points.

Ayoze Perez paced the hosts with goals on both sides of halftime, while Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie also converted for Newcastle.

U.S. Men’s National Team defender DeAndre Yedlin was on the bench for the Magpies but didn’t feature in Monday’s match.

The third and final team to be promoted from the Championship will be decided by the league’s annual promotion playoff, which is held at the end of the season and contested by four sides that finish third through sixth position.

As it stands, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Fulham occupy the four playoff positions.

Pardew laments firing, credits Palace turnaround to new players

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Alan Pardew knows why Crystal Palace was failing when he got fired, knows he could’ve fixed it, and seems pretty bummed he’s not there any more.

Pardew emerged to make the comments after Sam Allardyce helmed another upset win for Palace, a 2-1 win over Liverpool which joins defeats of Arsenal and Chelsea.

The win moves Palace 12th, and the Eagles have a legitimate shot at a top-half finish despite their poor start to the season. But Pardew wants fans to know it was about a personnel mistake, and that Palace dropped into the relegation zone after he was fired.

[ PL PREVIEW: Chelsea vs. Southampton ]

The Northeast Chronicle says Pardew aimed to bring former Newcastle left backs Davide Santon and Paul Dummett to Palace, but couldn’t get the moves over the line. Then Pape Souare was hurt in a car accident and Palace was in trouble.

Over to you, Pards (From the Chronicle’s Lee Ryder):

“We were kicking ourselves not to have any left-footed cover. We were playing right-footed players there and things were exploiting that situation. We became one dimensional.

“I was really disappointed I didn’t get to the window because Sam Allardyce followed me and the results didn’t really improve until the new players got bedded in and they made a big difference.”

Allardyce brought in Patrick Van Aanholt from Sunderland and Jeff Schlupp from Leicester to shore up the left side.

The story is made more amusing by the fact that Allardyce has not hesitated to make Palace’s return to form almost exclusively about his influence, while Pardew bleeds the very same blood.

Who’s on first?

Brighton & Hove Albion clinches Premier League promotion

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Brighton & Hove Albion is Premier League bound.

Chris Hughton has led two clubs into England’s top flight after his Gulls beat Wigan Athletic 2-1 on Monday, and Huddersfield Town drew 1-1 at Derby County.

Solly March and Glenn Murray scored for Brighton, which ends a 34-year wait to return to England’s top flight.

[ MORE: Should Man Utd prioritize Europa? ]

Meanwhile, Newcastle United wasted another chance to set its Premier League status in stone when it fell 3-1 at Ipswich Town. Once holding a healthy lead, the Magpies are now winless in three.

Leeds has dropped out of a playoff spot after a loss at Wolverhampton and wins from Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham.

If the playoffs started today, Reading would play Fulham in one semifinal with Huddersfield and Wednesday in the other.

Full scoreboard
Fulham 3-1 Aston Villa
Barnsley 1-1 Brentford
Birmingham City 0-2 Burton Albion
Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Bristol City
Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 Wigan Athletic
Cardiff City 1-0 Nottingham Forest
Ipswich Town 3-1 Newcastle United
Leeds United 0-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Preston North End 1-3 Norwich City
Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday
Reading 2-1 Rotherham United
Derby County 1-1 Huddersfield Town

Championship Focus: Gulls win again, on verge of Premier League

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Brighton and Hove Albion has all but clinched its Premier League status, thanks to another knockout performance from Anthony Knockaert.

Newcastle United isn’t far behind despite more dropped points, while the race for the playoff places remains four teams going for three places behind Huddersfield Town.

[ MORE: Handicapping the PL Player of the Year ]

Here’s what happened as the Championship staged the majority of its matches a day early.

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Brighton & Hove Albion

Knockaert scored twice to move the Gulls to within a breath of the Premier League. With a four-point advantage on Newcastle and a 12-point edge on third-place Huddersfield, which has a match in hand, it’s almost academic.

Newcastle United 1-1 Leeds United

Jamaal Lascelles scored to give Newcastle United a lead in a match it dominated… right up until Killer Kiwi striker Chris Wood buried his 25th goal of the season in stoppage time to move Leeds three points clear of seventh.

Norwich City 1-3 Fulham

That seventh place spot is occupied by the Cottagers of Fulham, who boast the third-best goal differential in the division but sit two points back of Sheffield Wednesday for sixth. Fulham was up 1-0 when it went down to 10 men, but still managed to outscore the Canaries the rest of the way.

If the season ended today, the playoffs would see Huddersfield versus Wednesday and Reading against Leeds in the first round of the playoffs.

Elsewhere
Wigan Athletic 3-2 Barnsley — Friday
Brentford 4-0 Derby County
Bristol City 2-1 QPR
Huddersfield Town 3-2 Preston North End
Rotherham United 1-1 Birmingham City
Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Cardiff City
Burton Albion 1-2 Ipswich Town
Nottingham Forest 0-1 Blackburn Rovers
Aston Villa vs. Reading — 10 a.m. ET Saturday

Championship Focus: Newcastle continue slide, fall from top spot

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Oh, Newcastle United, what are you doing? The title was yours, just waiting to be snatched up. Now, with five games to go, you no longer control your own destiny.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s coverage of the Championship ]

Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Brighton & Hove Albion

Fewer than a dozen games to go, only a handful of points off the top spot — there’s no better time to hit your best form of the season, and that’s exactly what Brighton have done over their last half-dozen games, winning five of the six at the same time Newcastle have gone into something of a tailspin (2W-2D-2L).

Glenn Murray bagged his 21st goal of the season (joint-3rd in the Championship) in the 58th minute on Friday, followed six minutes later by Brighton’s second, courtesy of Sebastien Pocognoli. QPR would pull a goal back through Matt Smith in the 74th minute, but the visitors would see out their 10th away win of the season (2nd most, behind Newcastle — 13).

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Spurs apply pressure, Chelsea unfazed ]

Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Newcastle United

All the possession in the world, all the shots and shots on target, don’t mean a thing if you can’t hit the back of the net. 52 percent possession, 16 shots (8 on target), to 11 (and 3) — and yet, the Magpies found themselves 2-0 down after 87 minutes.

Tom Lees and Steven Fletcher fired Wednesday, who needed the win to hold onto sixth place (fourth and final playoff spot), into a comfortable lead before Jonjo Shelvey pulled one back in the 88th minute.

Elsewhere in the Championship

(19th) Nottingham Forest 2-0 (3rd) Huddersfield Town
(10th) Norwich City 7-1 (4th) Reading
(5th) Leeds United 3-0 (9th) Preston North End
(7th) Fulham 3-1 (17th) Ipswich Town
(18th) Birmingham City 1-2 (8th) Derby County