Dwight Gayle struck in the sixth minute of added time to complete a hat-trick and fire Newcastle to a dramatic victory over Sky Bet Championship promotion rivals Norwich.
On a remarkable night at St James’ Park, the Magpies were trailing 3-2 with two minutes of stoppage time remaining when Yoan Gouffran headed them level and set the stage for Gayle to win it at the death in front of a raucous crowd of 48,236.
Rafael Benitez’s men could have been out of sight before the break, but saw Gayle’s 24th-minute opener cancelled out by Graham Dorrans from the penalty spot before Cameron Jerome’s stunner and Jacob Murphy’s deflected strike made it 3-1 to the visitors.
Gayle pulled one back almost immediately but there was little sign of what was to come in an astonishing conclusion to a game which saw the Canaries denied top spot as Newcastle climbed into third place.
By the time Newcastle eventually took the lead, when Gayle tapped home from Matt Ritchie’s near-post cross after Jamaal Lascelles and DeAndre Yedlin had opened up the Canaries down their left, the game should really have been all over.
The former Crystal Palace frontman had seen a close-range 12th-minute volley beaten away by Northern Ireland keeper Michael McGovern, who then kept out his header from a Ritchie corner six minutes later after the striker had earlier stabbed wide from Ciaran Clark’s long ball.
Ritchie was denied by the crossbar after meeting Paul Dummett’s 21st-minute cross and the opening goal when it finally arrived was scant reward for the home side’s efforts.
However, the visitors were level a minute before the break when referee Peter Bankes awarded a penalty for Gouffran’s clumsy challenge on Robbie Brady and Dorrans sent keeper Karl Darlow the wrong way from the spot.
Jerome produced a finish of genuine quality seven minutes after the restart when he picked up Murphy’s cross and curling right-foot effort across Darlow and inside the far post.
The home side’s momentum had dissipated alarmingly and as they struggled to find it once again, Norwich broke at pace and Lascelles could only deflect Murphy’s shot past the helpless Darlow.
The Magpies grabbed a lifeline within two minutes when Gayle ran on to Jonjo Shelvey’s long ball and beat McGovern, and Gouffran made the most of it in the fifth-minute of stoppage time when he headed home Yedlin’s cross.
But there was more to come and when the ball broke to Gayle in the dying seconds, his finish was unerring.