Newcastle have dropped back into the Premier League relegation zone after drawing 0-0 at relegated Aston Villa.
Sunderland’s 3-2 home victory against Chelsea leaves the Magpies in grave danger of slipping into the Championship.
In the opening exchanges rock-bottom Villa enjoyed most of the possession although they were unable to create any clear-cut chances.
In a very low-key first half on a warm Birmingham afternoon, Newcastle slowly began to improve but when Vurnon Anita played in Papiss Cisse, the striker was unable to trouble Mark Bunn in the Villa goal.
Ten minutes before the break Cisse mishit a shot straight at Bunn with possibly the clearest opening of a tepid first period.
Newcastle improved at the start of the second half and should have taken the lead in the 47th minute when Jack Colback lashed a shot from close to the penalty spot way over the bar after Andros Townsend’s cross had not been properly cleared.
Just before the hour mark Newcastle wasted another golden chance to break the deadlock when substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic contrived to lob the ball over Bunn – and the goal – when he had beaten the offside trap and seemed certain to score.
Georginio Wijnaldum fired straight at Bunn in the 71st minute and Mitrovic looped a header inches wide of the post, as the Magpies stepped up the tempo before Mitrovic powered another effort off target.
In stoppage time Wijnaldum’s powerful drive was blocked as Rafa Benitez’s lacklustre side were forced to settle for a point.