Ayoze Perez opened the scoring with a smart finish from DeAndre Yedlin’s low ball into the box, Chancel Mbemba doubled the lead after reacting quickest when Perez’s shot had been well saved, A late equaliser at Villa Park meant that Newcastle had won the Championship ahead of Brighton
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.
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.
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.