VAR chaos overshadowed an entertaining clash of styles as Newcastle beat Sheffield United 2-0 to move level on points.
The second goal was judged offside by the linesman but play was allowed to continue, and after originally being ruled out, VAR intervened to give the Magpies an unassailable lead.
Newcastle were content to defend deep for long periods and the Blades enjoying the lion’s share of possession looking threatening in the first half.
Visiting keeper Martin Dubravka put in a star performance to keep his side in the game, with Billy Sharp and Oli McBurnie both denied by the Slovak.
Newcastle kicked off, but it was the Blades who created the first chance, the play orchestrated by Ollie Norwood and eventually worked to Enda Stevens who forced a brilliant reflex save from Martin Dubravka.
They were able to keep the pressure on with McBurnie going close with two efforts, curling his second just the top right corner.
But it was Newcastle who struck first, Allan Saint-Maximin had already impressed with is dribbling before collecting a return pass and finishing in the bottom right corner past the outstretched Dean Henderson.
With the home crowd temporarily stunned into silence, the Blades continued to apply pressure and ended the half on the front foot.
Sharp was unable to get his head to a Jack O’Connell cross, and the last chance of the half saw Norwood force a fine save as his free kick looked destined for the right-hand corner.
The visitors started the second half brightly, controlling the play for the first five minutes.
However, it was McBurnie had the first real chance of the half with a header from the centre of the penalty area tipped over the bar by the ever-alert Dubravka.
Moments later, O’Connell was unable to connect with an ambitious overhead kick from the corner but the Slovak shot-stopper was soon back in action, making a point-blank save to deny a diving header from Sharp, who was then substituted for Mousset.
Controversy ensued for the second goal; Andy Carroll flicked a header onto Jonjo Shelvey, with the linesman’s flag going up on Carroll.
There was no whistle and Shelvey finished against a half-hearted Henderson who thought play had stopped.
The goal was initially ruled out but consultation with VAR overturned that decision, much to the ire of the home support.
The Blades weren’t able to apply the same pressure following the goal and the two-score cushion allowed Newcastle to press higher up the pitch and cut off the home threat at source.
The Magpies securing a win moves them up to 11th, level on points with the Blades who stay ninth.
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce said on the game: “We’ll have one of those so I can imagine how Chris is. Ultimately the right decision was on the night. Well done to the referee and Jonjo.
“The thing to improve is the linesman put his flag up, that for me has created the confusion. It was the manner of it.
“They were really good in the first half, they’re a good side, top class manager and the way that they play they’re going to be a threat to any team.”
Chris Wilder commented: “With the ball we played really well, that’s the most we’ve dominated anyone from a possession point of view, but possession doesn’t score you goals or win you games.”
“Every interview I do is VAR-based, it’s a new game.
“We were told at the start of the season the linesman would keep his flag down.
“It’s about the supporters for me, that goal’s sucked the life out of the players and 29,000 Sheff United fans.”
Sheffield United: Henderson; O’Connell, Egan, Basham (75′ Freeman); Stevens, Fleck, Norwood (72’ McGoldrick), Lundstram, Baldock; Sharp (63′ Mousset), McBurnie (78’ Freeman). Subs not used: Moore, Robinson, Jagielka, Besic.
Newcastle: Dubravka; Willems, Dummett, Clark, Fernandez, Manquillo; Saint-Maximin (81′ Atsu), Hayden, Shelvey, Almiron(88′ Krafth); Carroll (72′ Joelinton). Subs not used: Darlow, Schar, Longstaff, Gayle.
Referee: Stuart Atwell
Bookings: Sheffield United: Sharp (49′), Freeman (87’)
Scorers: Sheffield United: N/A
Newcastle: Saint-Maximin (15′), Shelvey (70′)
HT: 0 – 1
FT: 0 – 2
Attendance: 30, 409
Man of the Match: Martin Dubravka