Wayne Rooney scored twice to keep alive Manchester United's fading hopes of winning the Premiership.
Alan Shearer and Patrick Kluivert went close for Newcastle before Rooney volleyed home Darren Fletcher's cross.
Shearer eventually levelled the scores with a superb individual goal after dispossessing Wes Brown.
But Ruud van Nistelrooy scored from the spot after Shay Given fouled Paul Scholes and then Rooney slotted home from close range to seal victory.
The win lifts Sir Alex Ferguson's team into seventh place - but they are still 11 points behind Chelsea and nine behind Arsenal as they try to stay in touch with the top two.
Newcastle went nine unbeaten after Graeme Souness took over but have now lost four of their last five in all competitions.
His team clearly went into the match determined to get back on track and started at a blistering pace - Roy Carroll making a desperate save from a thunderous Shearer free-kick and then punching the subsequent corner clear.
Kluivert underlined his quality with a venomous volley after Craig Bellamy had chested the ball into his path on the edge of the visitor's area.
But it was a brilliant volley from Rooney that broke the deadlock.
Fletcher, out on the right flank, picked Rooney out in space but the 19-year-old still had a lot to do.
He demonstrated great technique by hitting the ball on the turn and past Shay Given, though the teenage striker's run should have been tracked by Titus Bramble, who was guilty of ball watching after Ronny Johnsen had been pulled out of position.
Cristiano Ronaldo should have doubled the visitor's lead after 15 minutes.
Rooney's cross-field pass reached Ronaldo after Stephen Carr slipped at the wrong moment and the Portuguese youngster turned Bramble inside and out before shooting but Given saved with his legs.
Shearer rues another missed chance
An uncompromising period of play followed, with both teams fully committed in the tackle and pushing forward at every opportunity.
Rio Ferdinand completely missed a long punt up-field, putting Shearer through but the veteran striker smashed his strike narrowly wide from just inside the box.
Van Nistelrooy shot wide of the Magpies goal, while an awful backpass from Rooney put Kluivert through, but after rounding Carroll the striker missed from a tight angle.
Newcastle had one more chance before the break, Lee Bowyer feinting past Gabriel Heinze before shooting only to be foiled by a superb block from Mikael Silvestre.
A brilliant run and pass from Scholes presented a superb opportunity for Fletcher but the young Scot could not keep his shot down.
Newcastle boss Graeme Souness introduced Kieron Dyer and Laurent Robert but his team's quest for an equaliser seemed to be running out of steam when Shearer scored a brilliant individual goal.
The veteran striker dispossessed Wes Brown on the right and cut inside, running into a huge amount of space on the edge of the Manchester United area before slotting the ball home.
But their joy was shortlived, Van Nistelrooy making no mistake from the penalty spot after Given had brought down Scholes.
Newcastle had the ball in the opposition net deep into injury time, but the goal was ruled out for a foul and seconds later Rooney rubbed salt in the wound by scoring at the other end after Bramble had cleared Van Nistelrooy's effort off the line.
Newcastle: Given, Carr (O'Brien 18), Bramble, Johnsen, Bernard,
Bowyer (Dyer 54), Butt, Jenas, Bellamy, Shearer,
Kluivert (Robert 62).
Subs Not Used: Harper, Ameobi.
Booked: Bramble, Johnsen.
Goals: Shearer 71.
Man Utd: Carroll, Gary Neville, Ferdinand,
Silvestre (Brown 57), Heinze, Fletcher (Giggs 75), Keane,
Scholes, Ronaldo (Smith 83), van Nistelrooy, Rooney.
Subs Not Used: Howard, Saha.
Goals: Rooney 7, van Nistelrooy 74 pen, Rooney 90.
Ref: M Dean (Wirral).