Matt Ritchie scored the only goal for Newcastle in the second half to secure a shock victory over second-placed Manchester United at St. James Park.
The Magpies climbed out of the relegation zone and left the visitors 16 points adrift of leaders Manchester City after the Red Devils missed a string of chances to take something from a ground at which manager Jose Mourinho is yet to win a league match.
Debutant Martin Dubravka was excellent in the Newcastle goal, denying Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Ashley Young and Michael Carrick, with the hosts having a first-half penalty denied when Chris Smalling tripped Dwight Gayle.
Smalling escaped reprieve on that occasion, but was rightly booked for a ridiculous dive in the second half in the build-up to Newcastle’s goal.
The ensuing free-kick from Jonjo Shelvey was headed down by Florian Lejeune and cleverly backheeled into Ritchie’s path by Dwight Gayle, and with a left-foot shot was dispatched low into a corner of the net.
“Hopefully I’ll have bigger wins than this one with Newcastle,” says Newcastle coach Rafael Benitez. “But it was a really great game against a top side. The way we were playing, with everybody giving everything, was absolutely fantastic.”
“We have been so close in so many games and not won but, although, we were a little bit lucky at the end today I still think we deserved three points. It keeps us believing we can win against anyone.”
“Newcastle United’s players and, of course, their staff gave what they have and what they don’t have and I think that’s a beautiful thing in football,” said United coach Jose Mourinho.
“I think they came to fight for a point but found themselves 1-0 up and, from that point, went beyond all the limits. They showed everything a manager likes to see in this game. I can imagine that Benítez is more than pleased with the effort.”
Their win also raises the chances of Manchester City being crowned champions when the teams meet at Etihad Stadium on 7 April; should both teams win all of their league matches prior to that, City would only need to draw with their fierce neigbouring rivals to secure the title that day.