Newcastle put any remaining relegation fears to rest with a deserved 3-0 win over 10-man Sheffield United.
The Magpies had the better of a cagey first half and Joelinton had a golden opportunity to end his nine-month league drought. The striker was played through by Miguel Almiron with just the keeper to beat, but the Brazilian scuffed his effort straight into Dean Henderson's hands.
But the second half burst to life after John Egan picked up his second booking after pulling back Allan Saint-Maximin who was bullying his way through to goal.
And four minutes later the Blades were behind when Enda Stevens slipped while trying to clear a Matt Ritchie cross, leaving Saint-Maximin to pick up the pieces and smash the ball past Dean Henderson.
Billy Sharp almost brought his side level just two minutes later but sent a header just wide of the post. Then up the other end Almiron should have put his side 2-0 up but shot straight at Henderson from eight yards out.
The hosts eventually doubled their lead when Matt Ritchie drove at the Sheffield United defence before lashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner.
Joelinton put the icing on the cake with his first league goal since August, tapping home a fine ball by Almiron six yards from goal to secure all three points and a win over one of the league's toughest teams to beat.
How good is Saint-Maximin? The Frenchman has struggled for consistency this season but when he's good, he's really really good. So few sides get the better of Sheffield United and Newcastle have just inflicted on them their worst defeat this season. Granted, they had 10 men, but the Blades are still a resilient side and Saint-Maximin broke them down. Other managers set to face Chris Wilder's men should take note on how Saint-Maximin got the better of them, and managers due to take on Steve Bruce's side should prepare their full-backs for a tough 90 minutes. This is a player on form at a time when defences look rusty. Be warned.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Allan Saint-Maximin (Newcastle) No surprise. Few players have bullied Sheffield United's backline this season, but Allan Saint-Maximin is one of them. Grabbed his second goal against the Blades this campaign and tormented them for 90 minutes with his strength and pace.
Newcastle: Dubravka 7, Rose 7, Manquillo 7, Lascelles 6, Fernandez 6, Ritchie 8, Shelvey 7, Hayden 6, Almiron 7, Saint-Maximin 8, Joelinton 7. Subs. Schar 6, Carroll n/a, Yedlin n/a, Lazaro 5, Bentaleb 6.
Sheffield United: Henderson 5, Baldock 7, Stevens 4, Basham 5, Egan 3, Robinson 5, Norwood 5, Fleck 5, Berge 4, Sharp 5, McBurnie 3. Subs. Lundstram 6, L Freeman 5, Zivkovic n/a, K Freeman n/a.
13' - CHANCE! Norwood gives the ball away to Almiron who plays in Ritchie 30 yards out. Ritchie's shot from distance is goalbound and stings the palms of Dean Henderson on the dive. Great shot, great save.
18' - CHANCE! Joelinton looks every bit a man without confidence. He's through on goal down the left, opens his body up to bend it round the keeper, completely scuffs it into the ground under very little pressure. So poor from the £40m man.
51' - RED CARD! Egan sees red after he takes down Saint-Maximin who was pushing through on goal. Few complaints from Egan as he picks up his second booking and marching orders. Drama! Saint-Maximin has bullied the Blades today and he bullied Egan there.
52' - GOAL! Newcastle 1-0 Sheffield United (Saint-Maximin): Saint-Maximin with the goal and Newcastle take the lead! And oh it's a horrible blunder. Ritchie down the left crosses for Saint-Maximin. Stevens is there to intercept but has a complete meltdown and the ball rolls under his foot under no pressure whatsoever. Saint-Maximin is alive for it and belts it past Henderson at the near post.
69' - GOAL! Newcastle 2-0 Sheffield United (Ritchie): Matt Ritchie has surely sealed the victory and its a brilliant goal. Ritchie runs at Baldock who just backs off and off before lashing a belter from outside the box into the top corner. Great goal and surely that's game over.
78' - GOAL! Newcastle 3-0 Sheffield United (Joelinton): Joelinton finally has it! A long awaited Premier League goal. The relief is palpable. He starts the move by finding Almiron in the left who plays a wonderful ball back to give the Brazilian a tap in.
Stats from Opta
- Newcastle are now unbeaten in four Premier League games on home soil without conceding a goal (W2 D2) - the Magpies have kept four straight clean sheets in the top-flight at St James’ Park for the first time since April 2012.
- After losing none of their first nine Premier League away games this season (W3 D6), Sheffield United have since suffered three defeats in their last six on the road (W1 D2), failing to score on four occasions during this run.
- Chris Wilder and Sheffield United have suffered their heaviest league defeat together since a 0-3 loss at Middlesbrough in August 2018, shipping more than twice on the road for the first time in the Premier League this season.
- There were just 264 seconds between John Egan being sent off for Sheffield United and Allan Saint-Maximin scoring the opener for Newcastle.
- Sheffield United defender John Egan received just the second red card of his English league career, with his only previous red before today coming last season versus Millwall in April 2019.
- After scoring with just one of his first 30 Premier League shots, Allan Saint-Maximin has now netted with each of his last two attempts (also v Southampton back in March). Indeed, only Jonjo Shelvey (5) has netted more times for Newcastle in the top-flight this season than the French winger (3).
- With his first goal involvements of the campaign, Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie has both scored and assisted in a Premier League game for the first time, with the Scotsman’s strike his first top-flight goal at St James’ Park since January 2019 (v Man City).
- Only Robbie Blake (90.9%), Neal Ardley (91.7%) and David Wetherall (93.3%) have scored a higher proportion of their Premier League goals on home soil than Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie (9/10 – 90%) – minimum of 10 Premier League goals.
- Newcastle striker Joelinton scored his first Premier League goal since August, ending a run of 26 games, 2,130 minutes on the pitch and 39 shots without scoring, since doing so against Spurs.