Norwich looked to be heading for their fifth straight win and the 48,236 crowd inside St James’ Park were resigning themselves to a third home defeat of the season.
Then with 95 minutes on the clock, Yoan Gouffran threw himself at a DeAndre Yedlin cross to head home.
Benitez would probably have settled for a 3-3 draw like Liverpool’s famous Champions League fightback against Milan in Istanbul, but ended up celebrating the most dramatic win of his Toon reign.
From the restart, Newcastle regained possession and with the Canaries in disarray, Dwight Gayle turned on the edge of the box to complete a memorable hat-trick and spark scenes of delirium on the pitch, the touchline and in the stands.
“It was amazing,” he said. “Normally I am quite calm but in the end, I was celebrating on the pitch with everyone else.