Norwich pushed Newcastle closer to relegation and boosted their own hopes of Premier League survival as Martin Olsson’s last-gasp strike clinched a dramatic 3-2 win on Saturday.
Alex Neil’s side had twice squandered the lead in their crunch clash at Carrow Road, with Newcastle substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic levelling following Timm Klose’s opener and then again with four minutes remaining after Dieumerci Mbokani’s blistering strike.
But Sweden defender Olsson bagged his first Norwich goal since September 2014 in stoppage-time to send the Canaries six points clear of the relegation zone and leave second bottom Newcastle six points adrift of safety with a game in hand.
Newcastle’s eighth successive away league loss means they are without a win in their last six matches and have taken one point from their three games since Rafael Benitez replaced the sacked Steve McClaren.
Norwich’s first home league win in six attempts was perfectly timed with fixtures against relegation rivals Crystal Palace and Sunderland in their next two matches.
Benitez had made five changes after the derby draw against Sunderland, with Karl Darlow replacing Rob Elliot following the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper’s knee ligament injury sustained on international duty this week.
It was just Darlow’s second Premier League appearance and his first since December, when he was at fault for West Brom’s winner.
If he had any nerves on his return to action, there was early encouragement for Darlow as he dived low to his right to keep out Steven Naismith’s low shot.
Newcastle were under seige early on and Jonny Howson crossed towards Mbokani, who fired home only to see his effort ruled out for offside.
Norwich were thrashed 6-2 by Newcastle at St James’ Park in October, but the Canaries were the dominant force this time.
Darlow denied Robbie Brady from the edge of the penalty area before instinctively sticking out a foot to block Mbokani’s close-range strike from Naismith’s cut-back.
Norwich deservedly broke the deadlock in first-half stoppage-time when Newcastle’s sloppy marking allowed Swiss defender Klose to rise unchallenged to head Brady’s free-kick past Darlow.
Benitez responded by sending on Ayoze Perez at halftime and Newcastle looked re-energised as they threatened an equaliser through Andros Townsend’s effort.
Benitez’s next move was to introduce Mitrovic and the Spaniard’s switch paid immediate dividends as the Serbian forward leapt to meet Townsend’s superb cross with a header that drew Newcastle level in the 71st minute.
Parity lasted less than three minutes however and Congo striker Mbokani did all the damage himself, driving into the left side of the area and smashing a powerful shot high past Darlow.
It was an emotional moment for Mbokani who, on his way home from international duty, was outside the Zaventem Airport terminal in Brussels when two terrorist bombs exploded and killed 26 people last month.
With four minutes left, Newcastle thought they had rescued a point when Norwich midfielder Gary O’Neil handled in the area after the ball bounced up awkwardly and Mitrovic stepped up to slam home the penalty.
But that set the stage for a remarkable finale as Olsson tried his luck with an angled shot that crept past several defenders before nestling in the bottom corner to spark wild celebrations all around Carrow Road.