Match ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 1, Newcastle United 2.
Mohamed Diame and Ayoze Perez scored in the last 10 minutes as Newcastle came from behind to snatch a dramatic victory at Brighton and move back to the top of the Championship.
The Seagulls looked set to open a four-point lead over the Magpies at the top thanks to a penalty from Glenn Murray.
But Diame equalised when Christian Atsu's shot looped up off his boot.
And then Atsu crossed from the left for substitute Perez, who had only come on seven minutes earlier, to fire home.
The victory moves Newcastle two points above Brighton as they attempt to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
The Seagulls were fired up for this top-of-the table contest and made a terrific start, camping in the Newcastle half and forcing Karl Darlow into two saves before he was beaten by the spot-kick from Murray.
But the penalty was controversial, with Murray and Ciaran Clark appearing to wrestle each other, but Bobby Madley pointed to the spot.
Soon after, left-back Sebastien Pocognoli was forced off with an injury to be replaced by Chelsea loanee Fikayo Tomori and Newcastle took advantage of the disruption.
They started to dominate possession with Atsu looking dangerous on the right, but failed to really trouble David Stockdale until first-half stoppage time when the Brighton goalkeeper had to deny Matt Ritchie and Atsu.
Although Paul Dummett brilliantly cleared off the line from Lewis Dunk at the start of the second half, Brighton became careless with Yoan Gouffran failing to capitalise on mistakes by Steve Sidwell and Stockdale.
Brighton had their moments but Newcastle looked the more dangerous side, even though they were let down by poor finishing, before they finally broke through.
King of the comebacks
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, involved in some dramatic comebacks during his career, masterminded another one with his two late substitutions.
The first replacement, Daryl Murphy, had already become the latest player to be denied by Stockdale when the Magpies finally equalised with one of the most bizarre goals of the season.
Atsu, who had been a constant menace to Brighton all night, tried his luck from the edge of the area and the ball ricocheted off not one, but two colleagues, Diame being the second, before finding its way into the roof of the net.
A minute later, Benitez threw on Spanish striker Perez for the wasteful Gouffran, and within seven minutes he had hit the winner.
Atsu led the defence on a merry dance once again, after a superb sweeping 60-yard pass from Matt Ritchie, before crossing firmly from the left for Perez to slam home from close range.
Magpies' tough run
Given their next few fixtures, it could be a vital victory for Newcastle as they face every other team in the current top seven in the next few weeks.
They travel to third-placed Huddersfield, who now trail them by eight points, on Saturday and then go to Reading next Tuesday. By the middle of April they also have to face Fulham, Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds.
By contrast, Leeds, Derby and Norwich are the only other sides in the top half of the table who Brighton will face in their remaining 12 games.
The Seagulls are trying to return to the top flight for the first time since they were relegated in 1982-83 after missing out so cruelly last season. Having been pipped on goal difference by Middlesbrough to finish third, they then lost to Sheffield Wednesday in the play-off semi-finals.
What the managers said
Brighton manager Chris Hughton: "Was it [the equaliser] a sickener? Yes, and I don't think it was a result we deserved.
"I've seen the penalty and there is no doubt Clark has his hands all over him. The referee was in a good position to see it. I think it was a penalty.
"But then it's one of those really unfortunate goals. I wondered at the time how it had gone in.
"But that gives Newcastle momentum going into that last period. I didn't think we were at our best today but I still thought we would go on to win."
Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez: "It was difficult when you play against a good team and with the advantage of goal from penalty that wasn't, it was more difficult.
"Watching the replay of the penalty he was pushing our player. But the reaction of the team was good.
"We were creating chances and you have to be pleased with the performance of everyone, on the pitch and off the bench.
"We created a lot of good situations before we got a little bit lucky. And Ayoze was calm and composed for the winner."
- 22DuffyBooked at 58mins
- 12PocognoliSubstituted forTomoriat 18'minutes
- 11KnockaertBooked at 38minsSubstituted forMarchat 88'minutes
- 9BaldockSubstituted forKayalat 82'minutes
- 17MurrayBooked at 90mins
- 22YedlinBooked at 37mins
- 4ColbackSubstituted forMurphyat 74'minutes
- 20GouffranSubstituted forPérezat 82'minutes
- Robert Madley
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 1, Newcastle United 2.
Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Shane Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Attempt missed. Matt Ritchie (Newcastle United) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Paul Dummett.
Glenn Murray (Brighton and Hove Albion) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Matt Ritchie (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Glenn Murray (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Goal! Brighton and Hove Albion 1, Newcastle United 2. Ayoze Pérez (Newcastle United) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Christian Atsu.
Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Solly March replaces Anthony Knockaert.
Attempt missed. Daryl Murphy (Newcastle United) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Ayoze Pérez.
Substitution, Newcastle United. Ayoze Pérez replaces Yoan Gouffran.
Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Beram Kayal replaces Sam Baldock.
Goal! Brighton and Hove Albion 1, Newcastle United 1. Mohamed Diamé (Newcastle United) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Daryl Murphy following a corner.
Attempt missed. Christian Atsu (Newcastle United) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right following a corner.
Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by David Stockdale.
Attempt missed. Daryl Murphy (Newcastle United) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Matt Ritchie with a cross.
Mohamed Diamé (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Glenn Murray (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Attempt saved. Daryl Murphy (Newcastle United) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Matt Ritchie with a cross.