Joelinton scored only his second Premier League goal and first since 25 August as Newcastle swept aside 10-man Sheffield United to take a huge step towards safety.
The relief on the Brazilian striker’s face was apparent when he tapped in the Magpies’ third, and although there were no fans inside St James’ Park to celebrate with, no doubt many were screaming with delight as the £40m striker ended his torrid run.
That was the icing on a sweet Magpies cake. Despite playing their first match since the restart, they looked far fresher than their opponents who produced one of their worst defensive displays of the season, capped off by the red card for John Egan five minutes after the break.
It means Chris Wilder’s side, who drew against Aston Villa in their opening match back, have taken just one point from two games against teams they would be expected to beat. Next up for them is Manchester United – a crucial match in the race for a top-four spot.
As for Newcastle, who have been dealing with a takeover saga during the lockdown, they have 38 points and are 11 points above the drop-zone. They now look all but safe.
Allan Saint-Maximin sent them on their way when he fired home at the far post after Enda Stevens inexplicably allowed Ritchie’s low ball to go between his legs. Ritchie then added a second with a thunderous strike from the edge of the area.
Then came Joelinton’s strike from close range after Miguel Almiron delivered a pinpoint low ball to his feet.
Newcastle stay at home for their next match against struggling Aston Villa.
More to follow.