Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo scored the goals which sent Manchester City to the top of the Premier League, but the story of the match rested with a goal that wasn't.
After Dzeko gave City an early lead at Newcastle, the home side thought they had hit back with a sweet half-volley from captain Cheick Tiote.
However, referee Mike Jones consulted with his linesman and disallowed the goal, apparently due to Yoan Gouffran interfering with play despite no immediate complaint coming from City goalkeeper Joe Hart.
The decision incensed the home side and their supporters, but Newcastle continued to press in the second period.
However, Hart was in fine form to deny them, and Negredo was on hand to add a second in the 95th minute of the game.
A potentially serious injury to midfielder Samir Nasri marred City's 2-0 win. Team personnel carried Nasri off the field after a poor challenge by Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
Newcastle worked hard in the opening minutes to close City down swiftly, but it took just seven minutes for the visitors to break the deadlock.
David Silva jinked around an opponent before sliding the ball perfectly for Aleksandar Kolarov to chase into the left side of the penalty area.
The defender provided a sublime low cross for Dzeko to fire into the roof of Tim Krul's net to give City the lead.
That's a magnificent goal from #MCFC. "Balanced" tactical outlook kills with great movement + interchanging— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) January 12, 2014
Negredo's first chance of the game came in the 15th minute when he found freedom on the penalty spot to connect with a Silva corner, but his headed effort flew just over the net.
Newcastle moved the ball around well as the half progressed with some crisp passing, but the final pass always seemed to be a letdown.
They caught Silva in possession in the 23rd minute, but officials declared Loic Remy offside as he chased the subsequent through ball.
Negredo's touch had been slightly off in the opening half-hour, but there was little wrong with his confidence when he attempted a strike from 25 yards. While the effort was high over the bar, few could argue with the forward for making the attempt.
The Magpies were not out of the match yet, and only a block from Negredo denied Steven Taylor as he attempted to connect with a Yohan Cabaye corner in the 32nd minute.
In the 33rd minute, though, officials controversially denied Newcastle an equaliser.
A cleared Cabaye corner went to Tiote just outside the area, and his half-volley flew through a wall of players inside the box to beat Joe Hart.
However, after consulting with the linesman, referee Mike Jones disallowed the goal on the grounds that Gouffran interfered with play—although he was not impeding Hart.
Tempers flared among the Newcastle players, and both Cabaye and Moussa Sissoko received unnecessary cautions in the aftermath of the disallowed strike.
St James' Park in ferment. Pardew still shaking his head. #nufc fans still booing at decision to rule out Tiote's strike for offside— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) January 12, 2014
Even Newcastle manager Alan Pardew and his City counterpart Manuel Pellegrini became embroiled in a heated exchange before the interval. The Magpies boss also berated the referee when he left the field at half-time.
After the game, Pardew voiced his frustration in an interview with Sky Sports:
For me, this is an entertainment business. The guy's hit a goal that Joe Hart is just not going to save. It goes through a number of bodies but his vision is not impaired.
I don't think he was clear in his answers about Joe Hart being impaired. I couldn't work that out.
I don't understand it. Even if Man City's back four is on the edge of the box and we've got four offside, it's such a clean hit, it's going in the top corner.
He's got that wrong and unfortunately that was a massive call. In these type of games they have got to go your way.It was probably easier for him to give the goal and I can't understand why he hasn't.
We're crying out for entertainment, you hit a goal like that and the place is in uproar, and he's gone on a real tiny technicality, which I think is wrong.
Tiote went into the book three minutes after the break for a needless foul on Yaya Toure.
Remy looked to be heading into dangerous territory as he moved to the edge of the City area, but he soon found his path to goal blocked.
Pellegrini switched goalscorer Dzeko for winger Jesus Navas in the 52nd minute, although there was no obvious injury concern for the striker.
Nasri and Silva produced a superb one-two to set up a chance for Negredo, but his turn was too quick, and the effort flew wide.
Krul showed fantastic reaction time to deny Negredo a second goal for City with a close-range header from a Silva free-kick.
Newcastle were still in the game, however, and Hart had to be alert to push away an excellent Cabaye drive in the 59th minute.
Cabaye again forced Hart into a good save with a dangerous free-kick before Tiote drove the clearance wide of goal.
Before that free-kick, Pellegrini had switched Toure for Javi Garcia to add more of a defensive presence for the visitors as Newcastle continued to press.
Cabaye was becoming a thorn in City's side, and his deceptive 69th-minute drive almost caught out Hart.
But the midfielder was also becoming a potential problem for Pardew with a number of poor challenges while on a yellow card.
Hart denied Remy an equaliser, blocking the striker's drive well off a Gouffran cross with 20 minutes remaining.
Pardew swapped Vurnon Anita for the more imposing presence of Papiss Cisse, but there was to be concern for City in the 76th minute.
A bad challenge from Yanga-Mbiwa caught Nasri, who had to be carried from the field on a stretcher. James Milner replaced Nasri, and the referee booked Yanga-Mbiwa.
Pellegrini admitted in an interview with Sky Sports after the game that the injury looks serious:
The kick he (Yanga-Mbiwa) made to Nasri was absolutely a red card directly.
We did not have any help from the referee today. He didn't give a goal because it was absolutely offside, that is the only clear thing about which Newcastle can complain. But it was offside.
Nasri has I think a serious injury to his knee, we will see tomorrow. I repeat it was a direct red card.
It's his medial ligament. We will see tomorrow what has happened with him.
Pardew put on Hatem Ben Arfa and Massadio Haidara for Gouffran and Yanga-Mbiwa respectively for the closing stages as he chased at least a point from the game.
Fernandinho crashed a header against the crossbar five minutes before the end after a Silva free-kick had not been cleared fully.
In the fifth minute of injury time, Negredo secured the points for City when he collected a fine Milner ball to race into the area.
Krul blocked the City striker's first attempt, but the ball bounced kindly for Negredo, and he slotted home to make it 2-0.
David Silva: A
Silva pulled the strings for City as usual, and his clever ball began the move for Dzeko's first-half strike. A persistent danger for Newcastle.
Alvaro Negredo: A-
Surprisingly not at his best in the opening 45 minutes, when his touch seemed to be off, but he never lost his confidence.
His late strike continued to prove his importance to Pellegrini's team.
Yohan Cabaye: A-
Some clever play from the Newcastle midfielder gave his team opportunities to build some momentum but did not quite come off in the first half.
He continued to push for an equaliser in the second half but also lived on a knife edge with some poor challenges while on a caution in the first period.
Manchester City play host to Blackburn Rovers in their FA Cup third-round replay at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, while Newcastle travel to West Ham next Saturday in the Premier League.
Brilliant win today,the spirit of the team was amazing and the support was fantastic again...keep it up. #COMEONCITY— Fernandinho (@fernaoficial) January 12, 2014
Newcastle had a wrongfully disallowed goal, but they should have ended the match with 9 men. It’s right to remember both of these things.— Nick Akerman (@Nakerman) January 12, 2014