Shola Ameobi scored his third goal of the season as Newcastle handed Harry Redknapp his first defeat as Queens Park Rangers manager.
It looked like being a frustrating day for the Magpies, who had lost six of their previous seven games, as Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse missed good chances.
But substitute Ameobi rifled in a shot with nine minutes remaining for his first league goal in nine months.
QPR battled hard, with striker Djibril Cisse missing their best chance.
Rangers, who defended stoutly and looked dangerous on the counter-attack, thought they had done enough as they looked to continue their mini-revival under new manager Redknapp.
However, it was Redknapp's opposite number Alan Pardew who changed the course of the match, with two of his substitutes having a direct influence in the match-winning strike.
Sylvain Marveaux replaced Cheick Tiote with 13 minutes left, and his extra quality created the opportunity for Ameobi to collect the Frenchman's pass, cut inside and find the back of the net with a classy finish.
It justified Pardew's decision to replace Papiss Cisse with Ameobi - a substitution which caused some discontent from the stands, and plenty of frustration from the Senegalese striker. Papiss Cisse refused to shake his manager's hand as he angrily made his way to the dugout to watch the remainder of the match.
Goals, goals, goals
There has not been a Premier League goalless draw at St James' Park during the whole of 2012. The last was against Swansea in December 2011.
It capped a miserable day for the number nine, as he and his strike partner Ba struggled to break down a resolute Rangers defence expertly marshalled by Ryan Nelsen.
The one time the two did link up to good effect midway through an uninspiring first half ended with Cisse being denied by Fabio's well-timed tackle.
Ba also fired two free-kicks into the stands as Newcastle looked short on ideas without influential midfielders Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa.
QPR almost stunned St James' Park after the break when Adel Taarabt, who scored two goals in his side's victory over Fulham last weekend, showcased some outrageous skill to leave three defenders in his wake and slotted a pass through for Djibril Cisse. The French striker held off his marker, but his shot found the side-netting.
Newcastle were struggling for inspiration, until Pardew brought on Ameobi and Gabriel Obertan with just half an hour to go.
The change worked a treat, as the home side became much more of a threat in the final third - Ba turning and having a shot deflected over and then having a weak header saved by Rob Green.
A goal seemed inevitable, and it was no surprise when Ameobi slotted home. There was still time for the impressive Marveaux to go close with two shots that were well saved by Green, but Newcastle had done enough.
The only negative to come out of the game for the hosts was a fifth booking of the season for Tiote, which rules the midfielder out of his side's Boxing Day trip to Manchester United.
Rangers will take plenty of heart from their workmanlike performance, with defeats for their relegation rivals Reading, Wigan and Southampton meaning very little has changed in the bottom four.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew: "I know the crowd weren't particularly pleased when I took Cisse, a goalscorer, off but I just felt Shola, he's a big man and this was a big occasion and he likes big occasions.
"It said QPR on the programme but really it was bigger than that, I think we all knew that and he has that calm head - he knows what is demanded here - to produce a quality goal, and it won us the game.
"I wanted to get Shola on the pitch, and thank goodness I did because it was a really class finish."
QPR boss Harry Redknapp: "I thought we were going to hang on and nick a draw. I couldn't see us winning, but we just couldn't see it through.
"I thought we could hang on for a good point to keep us going, but it just wasn't to be."
- 01 Krul
- 02 Coloccini
- 03 Santon
- 05 Simpson
- 06 Williamson
- 14 Perch Booked
- 08 Anita
- 18 Gutierrez (Obertan - 60' )
- 24 Tiote Booked (Marveaux - 77' )
- 09 Cisse (Sh Ameobi - 61' Booked )
- 19 Ba
- 37 Harper
- 31 Ferguson
- 20 Bigirimana
- 22 Marveaux
- 25 Obertan
- 23 Sh Ameobi
- 28 Sa Ameobi
Queens Park Rangers
- 01 Green
- 05 Ferdinand Booked
- 06 Hill Booked
- 17 Nelsen
- 20 Fabio
- 10 Taarabt
- 14 Granero (Wright-Phillips - 56' )
- 32 Faurlin (Derry - 78' )
- 40 M'bia
- 09 Cisse (Hoilett - 64' )
- 12 Mackie
- 26 Murphy
- 03 Traore
- 15 Onuoha
- 02 Diakite
- 04 Derry
- 11 Wright-Phillips
- 23 Hoilett
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee ends the match.90:00 +4:51
Jamie Mackie fouled by Mike Williamson, the ref awards a free kick. Shot on goal comes in from Adel Taarabt from the free kick, save by Tim Krul.90:00 +4:22
Rob Green takes the direct free kick.90:00 +4:22 Booking
Booking Booking for Shola Ameobi.90:00 +3:41
Foul by Ryan Nelsen on Demba Ba, free kick awarded. Demba Ba takes the direct free kick.90:00 +2:55
The referee blows for offside. Tim Krul restarts play with the free kick.90:00 +2:08
Shola Ameobi is caught offside. Free kick taken by Rob Green.90:00 +1:48
Shola Ameobi takes a shot. Save by Rob Green.90:00 +0:56
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Demba Ba by Ryan Nelsen. Demba Ba takes the free kick.90:00 +0:42
Clint Hill concedes a free kick for a foul on Demba Ba. Direct free kick taken by Vurnon Anita.89:39
David Hoilett fouled by Davide Santon, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Rob Green.88:53
Adel Taarabt is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Indirect free kick taken by Tim Krul.87:58
Shaun Derry takes the direct free kick.87:58 Booking
Booking James Perch is shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.87:38
Foul by James Perch on Adel Taarabt, free kick awarded.85:33
Clint Hill challenges Demba Ba unfairly and gives away a free kick. Strike on goal comes in from Sylvain Marveaux from the free kick.85:07
Direct free kick taken by Vurnon Anita.85:07 Booking
Booking Clint Hill receives a caution.84:47
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Demba Ba by Clint Hill.82:09
Sylvain Marveaux takes a shot. Save made by Rob Green.
Corner taken by Adel Taarabt.80:11
Assist on the goal came from Sylvain Marveaux.80:11 Goal scored
Goal! - Shola Ameobi - Newcastle 1 - 0 QPR Goal scored by Shola Ameobi from deep inside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Newcastle 1-0 QPR.79:00
Danny Simpson takes a shot. Clint Hill manages to make a clearance. Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Vurnon Anita.77:58 Substitution
Substitution Shaun Derry joins the action as a substitute, replacing Alejandro Faurlin.76:15 Substitution
Substitution Sylvain Marveaux is brought on as a substitute for Cheick Tiote.73:17
Stephane Mbia concedes a free kick for a foul on Shola Ameobi. Free kick taken by Tim Krul.72:27
Demba Ba takes a shot. Save by Rob Green.70:39
Clint Hill gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Shola Ameobi. Demba Ba has an effort direct from the free kick, Adel Taarabt gets a block in. Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Vurnon Anita.67:53
Shola Ameobi fouled by Clint Hill, the ref awards a free kick. Tim Krul takes the direct free kick.66:03
Header by Shola Ameobi from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the goal.65:19
Demba Ba takes a shot. Ryan Nelsen gets a block in. Corner taken by Vurnon Anita played to the near post, save by Rob Green.63:58
Vurnon Anita takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line to the near post, Rob Green manages to make a clearance.62:57
Direct free kick taken by Anton Ferdinand.62:57 Substitution
Substitution David Hoilett replaces Djibril Cisse.62:57 Booking
Booking Cheick Tiote goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.62:51
Cheick Tiote challenges Shaun Wright-Phillips unfairly and gives away a free kick.61:30
Ryan Nelsen gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Shola Ameobi. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Vurnon Anita from left wing, save by Rob Green.60:56
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Fabricio Coloccini by Jamie Mackie. Direct free kick taken by Tim Krul.59:35 Substitution
Substitution Shola Ameobi is brought on as a substitute for Papiss Cisse.59:35 Substitution
Substitution Gabriel Obertan on for Jonas Gutierrez.59:35
Header from deep inside the area by Papiss Cisse goes over the bar.55:19 Substitution
Substitution Shaun Wright-Phillips replaces Esteban Granero.49:12
The assistant referee signals for offside against Demba Ba. Indirect free kick taken by Rob Green.48:26
Esteban Granero gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on James Perch. Free kick taken by Vurnon Anita.47:34
Corner taken by Alejandro Faurlin, Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Stephane Mbia goes harmlessly over the crossbar.47:18
Djibril Cisse takes a shot. Save by Tim Krul.45:01
The referee gets the second half started.45:00 +2:05 Half time
Half Time The half-time whistle blows.45:00 +1:06
Free kick awarded for a foul by Jamie Mackie on James Perch. Fabricio Coloccini takes the free kick.45:00 +0:37
Effort on goal by Cheick Tiote from long range goes harmlessly over the bar.45:00 +0:20
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Vurnon Anita, save by Rob Green.45:00 +0:04
Davide Santon takes a shot. Esteban Granero gets a block in.44:28
The referee blows for offside against Jamie Mackie. Fabricio Coloccini restarts play with the free kick.43:44
The referee blows for offside. Indirect free kick taken by Fabricio Coloccini.43:05
Shot from just outside the area by James Perch goes over the bar.42:18
Djibril Cisse takes a shot. Save by Tim Krul.41:46 Booking
Booking The referee shows Anton Ferdinand a yellow card for dissent.38:45
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Vurnon Anita by Stephane Mbia. Demba Ba has a direct shot on goal from the free kick.36:50
Stephane Mbia concedes a free kick for a foul on Vurnon Anita. Strike on goal comes in from Demba Ba from the free kick.36:23
Foul by Esteban Granero on Cheick Tiote, free kick awarded. Tim Krul takes the direct free kick.35:22
Effort from inside the area by Papiss Cisse misses to the right of the goal.32:25
Corner taken by Alejandro Faurlin, save by Tim Krul.31:09
The assistant referee flags for offside against Djibril Cisse. Indirect free kick taken by Tim Krul.30:23
Cheick Tiote takes a shot. Rob Green makes a save.29:47
Corner taken right-footed by Vurnon Anita, save by Rob Green.25:35
Corner taken right-footed by Vurnon Anita from the right by-line to the near post, Clint Hill makes a clearance.24:29
Vurnon Anita concedes a free kick for a foul on Fabio Da Silva. Fabio Da Silva takes the direct free kick.23:29
Free kick awarded for a foul by Papiss Cisse on Alejandro Faurlin. Free kick taken by Esteban Granero.20:01
Mike Williamson concedes a free kick for a foul on Adel Taarabt. Esteban Granero takes the free kick.18:44
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Vurnon Anita from the left by-line.15:30
Adel Taarabt takes a shot. Save made by Tim Krul.8:19
Davide Santon fouled by Djibril Cisse, the ref awards a free kick. Tim Krul takes the direct free kick.7:33
Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Vurnon Anita.5:32
Papiss Cisse concedes a free kick for a foul on Fabio Da Silva. Free kick taken by Rob Green.4:13
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Alejandro Faurlin by Cheick Tiote. Direct free kick taken by Clint Hill.2:01
Corner from the right by-line taken by Vurnon Anita, Demba Ba takes a shot.0:13
The assistant referee flags for offside against Djibril Cisse. Fabricio Coloccini takes the free kick.0:00
The match begins.
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