The celebrations from Dwight Gayle’s third goal in the 90th minute had only just petered out when St James’ Park erupted once more.

This time, it was news from 200 miles away which sparked jubilant scenes. Brighton had conceded an equaliser at Aston Villa and, if it stayed like that, the title was heading to the North-East.

The full-time whistle sounded on Tyneside but still Newcastle’s players and supporters waited for news from Villa Park. And then it arrived – they were champions.




Newcastle forward Ayoze Perez celebrates after breaking the deadlock during the final game of the Championship season

DeAndre Yedlin (centre) whipped in a brilliant cross and Perez was on hand to apply the finish from 12 yards

Perez watches on as his effort flies past Barnsley goalkeeper Adam Davies and into the bottom corner

Perez watches on as his effort flies past Barnsley goalkeeper Adam Davies and into the bottom corner

Perez is congratulated by his team-mates after giving his side the lead at St James' Park on Sunday afternoon

Perez is congratulated by his team-mates after giving his side the lead at St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon

Jonjo Shelvey (centre, No 12) raises the Championship winners' trophy with his ecstatic team-mates at St James' Park

Champagne is sprayed at Jamaal Lascelles by Matt Ritchie (right) as Daryl Murphy (No 33) opens a bottle (left)

Newcastle's jubilant players and staff chant with joy after their brilliant victory in the North East on Sunday afternoon

Newcastle’s jubilant players and staff chant with joy after their brilliant victory in the North East on Sunday afternoon

The 57-year-old Spanish manager Rafa Benitez celebrates winning the league with the Championship trophy

Benitez applauds Newcastle's supporters as he smiles with his Championship winners' medal around his neck

Benitez applauds Newcastle’s supporters as he smiles with his Championship winners’ medal around his neck

MATCH FACTS AND LEAGUE TABLE

Newcastle (4-5-1): Elliot, Yedlin, Hayden (Haidara 13), Dummett, Mbemba, Shelvey (Diame 72), Colback, Gouffran, Perez (Gayle 80), Atsu, Mitrovic

Subs not used: Darlow, Lazaar, Anita, Gayle, Murphy

Goals: Perez  23, Mbemba 59, Gayle 90

Booked: Diame

Barnsley (4-5-1): Davies, Jackson, MacDonald, Janko, Kent (Williams 74), Scowen, Elder, James, Moncur, Bradshaw (Lee 74), Hedges (Watkins 54)

Subs not used: Townsend, Evans, Mowatt, Jones

  • Team P GD Pts
    1 Newcastle United 46 45 94
    2 Brighton and Hove Albion 46 34 93
    3 Reading 46 4 85
    4 Sheffield Wednesday 46 15 81
    5 Huddersfield Town 46 -2 81
    6 Fulham 46 28 80
    7 Leeds United 46 14 75
    8 Norwich City 46 16 70
    9 Derby County 46 4 67
    10 Brentford 46 10 64
    11 Preston North End 46 1 62
    12 Cardiff City 46 -1 62
    13 Aston Villa 46 -1 62
    14 Barnsley 46 -3 58
    15 Wolverhampton Wanderers 46 -4 58
    16 Ipswich Town 46 -10 55
    17 Bristol City 46 -6 54
    18 Queens Park Rangers 46 -14 53
    19 Birmingham City 46 -19 53
    20 Burton Albion 46 -14 52
    21 Nottingham Forest 46 -10 51
    22 Blackburn Rovers 46 -12 51
    23 Wigan Athletic 46 -17 42
    24 Rotherham United 46 -58 23

Rafa Benitez joined his team on the pitch and, while he accepted the adulation of those home masses, attention now turns to the serious business of his future.

It helps his cause that owner Mike Ashley were here to witness and enjoy the title party, but he must now prove to Benitez that he shares his ambition for next season in the Premier League if the Spaniard is to stay in charge.

That meeting will take place this week and the pair should certainly enter into it in high spirits after this Championship-clinching drama.

The game’s first chance coincided with the opening goal on 23 minutes. Chelsea loanee Christian Atsu drove at a retreating backline and his flick set DeAndre Yedlin free down the right. The American centred and Ayoze Perez applied the most impudent back-heel finish from 12 yards with the ball nestling in the bottom corner.

Atsu was terrifying the visiting backline and, following a smart turn to steal a yard on the edge of the area, his blast was palmed over by Adam Davies.

The Ghana winger then out-foxed skipper Josh Scowen with his trickery and drove along the by-line before seeing his low cross scrambled behind by defender Saidy Janko.

Chancel Mbemba (centre doubled the lead after reacting quickest when Perez's shot had been well saved

Chancel Mbemba (centre doubled the lead after reacting quickest when Perez’s shot had been well saved

Mbemba roars with delight after increasing his side's lead shortly into the second half

Mbemba is congratulated by his Newcastle team-mates after scoring his first goal of the season

Mbemba is congratulated by his Newcastle team-mates after scoring his first goal of the season

Magpies fans celebrate after watching their team cap a fine season by winning the Championship  

Defender Isaac Hayden was forced off in the opening stages after suffering a head injury clearing the ball

Defender Isaac Hayden was forced off in the opening stages after suffering a head injury clearing the ball

French forward Yoan Gouffran (right) closes down Swiss midfielder Saidy Janko during the first half

French forward Yoan Gouffran (right) closes down Swiss midfielder Saidy Janko during the first half

Ghanain forward Christian Atsu (centre) is closed down by three Barnsley players as he dribbles with the ball

Ghanain forward Christian Atsu (centre) is closed down by three Barnsley players as he dribbles with the ball

Owner Mike Ashley (right) was all smiles as his team got past a resilient Barnsley outfit on Tyneside

Owner Mike Ashley (right) was all smiles as his team got past a resilient Barnsley outfit on Tyneside




Atsu was again denied by Davies on the stroke of half-time. Perez was the provider with a clever flick and Atsu was unlucky to see his low steer flipped around the upright by the diving custodian.

But the hosts did have a second one minute shy of the hour mark, Davies doing well to save from Perez only for Chancel Mbemba to follow in with a close-range finish.

Davies then kept out an Aleksandar Mitrovic header and Jonjo Shelvey clipped the base of the post before news filtered through of Brighton’s opening goal at Villa Park.

Gayle poked in his side’s third as the game ticked towards a flat conclusion, but then word spread of Jack Grealish’s goal for Villa.

It did not feel flat for long.