By Tom Easterby - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At St. James' Park
Newcastle United 6 (Mitrovic 19, 55, Diame 38, 87, Ritchie pen 53, Perez 90)
Preston North End 0
Braces from Aleksandar Mitrovic and Mo Diame helped Newcastle United book their place in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup with an emphatic 6-0 victory over 10-man Preston North End at St. James' Park.
Mitrovic nodded home on 19 minutes to give a dominant United the advantage, just five minutes before Preston's Alan Browne saw red for an aerial challenge on Jack Colback, which left the Magpies man unable to continue.
Senegalese international Diame then powered home his first goal for the club seven minutes before the break, blasting in from distance when the ball fell kindly for him.
It was no less than Rafa Benitez's side deserved having had much the better of the first 45, with Isaac Hayden hitting the post with a thumping effort not long before Mitrovic's first goal.
Their dominance continued after the break, with a Matt Ritchie penalty making it three before Mitrovic and Diame both grabbed their second goals.
And Ayoze Perez added further gloss to the scoreline with his team's sixth in the dying seconds, completing the rout as Newcastle went into the draw for the last eight in style.
Both managers opted to shuffle their packs for the tie, with Benitez making seven changes to the team that beat Ipswich Town 3-0 on Saturday and his opposite number, Simon Grayson, changing nine of his team after their 1-0 win at Norwich City at the weekend.
Newcastle were quickest out of the traps, with recalled frontman Mitrovic looking lively. The Serbian's forceful run towards the North End box resulted in a shooting opportunity for Christian Atsu, but Bailey Wright stood firm to block it.
Mitrovic was keeping Preston's backline occupied, and he almost latched on to Diame's flick soon after, but the ball ran just out of reach. With quarter of an hour gone, though, United went closer to an opener, as Hayden - another player to have been brought back into the line-up - rattled the post with a fine angled strike, which which former Manchester United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard beaten.
With Newcastle now firmly on the front foot, it seemed like only a matter of time before the deadlock was broken - and a first goal duly arrived, courtesy of Mitrovic. Ritchie swung in a fine free kick from deep and the former Anderlecht man met it at the far post, planting a towering header past Lindegaard to reward the Magpies for their early dominance.
Having conceded, Preston's woes were compounded by the dismissal of midfielder Browne midway through the half. His elbow on Colback as the pair went up for an aerial duel was blatant, and referee Andrew Madley showed little hesitation before producing the red card.
Atsu then pulled one wide after some excellent work from Paul Dummett down the left before Jonjo Shelvey replaced Colback, who was unable to continue after Browne's elbow, but there was no respite for Grayson's men, who fell further behind when Diame latched on to a loose ball and fired unerringly into the bottom corner from 25 yards out.
And he could have had his second when Mitrovic squared it for him having gone clean through, but Diame blazed high and wide of the target with only Lindegaard to beat before seeing his clever chip float just over the bar in the half's dying moments.
A Hayden half volley at the start of the second period, which was easily gathered by Lindegaard, indicated that United were in no mood to take their foot off the gas, at a low Ritchie crossed looked to have created a goal for Atsu, but for a timely block.
And when Ritchie was felled in the box on 52 minutes, the Scotland international kept hold of the ball after a discussion with Mitrovic, stepping up to blast home an unstoppable spot-kick and all but make sure of Newcastle's place in the last eight.
Two minutes later, the crowd of almost 50,000 inside St. James' were treated to a moment of sublime quality. Mitrovic, at his commanding best up front, controlled a lofted cross from the right on his chest, before brilliantly sidestepping a pair of challenges from Preston defenders and then goalkeeper Lindegaard, too, before blasting home in front of the Gallowgate End to delight the Magpies faithful.
The onslaught continued, as Atsu's cross-shot struck the inside of the post before the Ghanaian squared for Mitrovic, who was denied a hat-trick by an excellent block. Shelvey took aim from well outside the box, but Lindegaard held on.
Mitrovic then nodded just wide from an inviting Shelvey delivery and DeAndre Yedlin's deflected cross dropped onto Atsu's head, but the on-loan Chelsea man couldn't quite keep his header down and it rattled the crossbar. Substitute Vurnon Anita saw a close-range hooked effort turned wide by Preston's overworked custodian, who then held another Atsu effort down low to his right.
It wasn't until the final ten minutes that the visitors mustered an attempt on goal, and Matz Sels did brilliantly to repel former Magpie Paul Huntington's goalbound header, but just seconds later it was five.
Diame strode forward and unleashed another fine effort from long range, which curled beyond Lindegaard and nestled in the corner of the net.
And with seconds left, substitute Perez lashed home from inside the box to round off a wonderful night for Benitez's men, who extended their unbeaten run to eight games in all competitions.
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Matz Sels; DeAndre Yedlin, Chancel Mbemba, Grant Hanley, Paul Dummett (c) (Vurnon Anita 58); Isaac Hayden, Jack Colback (Jonjo Shelvey 31); Matt Ritchie (Ayoze Perez 75), Mo Diame, Christian Atsu; Aleksandar Mitrovic
Preston North End (4-4-2): Anders Lindegaard; Bailey Wright, Paul Huntington, Ben Davies (Paul Gallagher 46), Tommy Spurr; Chris Humphrey, Liam Grimshaw, Ben Pringle (Tom Clarke 46), Alan Browne; Eoin Doyle, Simon Makienok (Daniel Johnson 63)
Subs not used: Chris Maxwell, Callum Robinson, Jordan Hugill, Jermaine Beckford
Referee: Andrew Madley
Bookings: Newcastle United - Aleksandar Mitrovic (56); Preston North End - Eoin Doyle (19)
Red cards: Newcastle United - none; Preston North End - Alan Browne (24)