Newcastle avenged their League Cup final loss against Manchester United as Joe Willock and Callum Wilson clinched a 2-0 win that lifted the Magpies into third place in the Premier League on Sunday.
Eddie Howe’s side were beaten 2-0 by United at Wembley five weeks ago in their first major final for 24 years.
But Newcastle might swap silverware for a lucrative Champions League berth and second half goals from Willock and Wilson at a raucous St James’ Park moved them closer to that ambition.
Newcastle’s third successive league win — and their first against United since 2019 — took them above their fourth placed opponents on goal difference.
They sit one point ahead of fifth placed Tottenham, who visit Everton on Monday, as the race hots up to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top four finish.
It is 46 years since Newcastle last finished above United, but the Magpies, fuelled by Howe’s astute management and the financial backing of their Saudi owners, now have a rare chance to emulate that feat.
United are without a win in their last three league games, thrashed 7-0 at Liverpool and then held to a goalless draw by lowly Southampton before this setback on Tyneside.
United’s first major trophy in six years was supposed to be the start of a new golden era, but instead they have failed to score in three successive league matches for the first time since February 2020.
It was a dispiriting start to a busy run of nine fixtures in April as Erik ten Hag’s men look to nail down a top four finish, while aiming to advance to the Europa League semi-finals and FA Cup final.
Marcus Rashford started for United after missing England’s recent Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine due to a toe injury.
Yet, in the midst of a superb personal campaign, this was a rare dud for Rashford and United looked toothless as a result.
David De Gea made a brilliant double save to keep United level, repelling Alexander Isak’s header from Jacob Murphy’s cross and then blocking Willock’s close-range effort on the rebound.
The Magpies’ pressure was finally rewarded in the 65th minute when Bruno Guimaraes clipped a cross to the far post and Allan Saint-Maximin headed back towards Willock, who nodded home from virtually on the goalline.
Wilson put the result beyond doubt after 88 minutes with a clinical close-range header from Kieran Trippier’s free-kick.