BILLY SHARP’S 73rd-minute penalty gave what would be the greatest of great escapes lift off at last.
With just two points from a possible 51 beforehand, Sheffield United had been written off by everyone – including their own fans.
Sheff United claimed their first league win of the season against NewcastleCredit: PA:Press Association
Billy Sharp kept his cool to convert from the spot to claim the pointsCredit: Getty
And while Chris Wilder kept saying how he believed they could pull off a miracle, you wondered whether he really meant it.
But now, after their first win from 18 attempts, can the Blades conjure up something truly special?
In truth, they cannot have wished for an easier opponent to stop the rot.
Newcastle were a shambles and Steve Bruce knows he will be copping it from all angles after this horror show.
The Toon boss was hardly helped by Ryan Fraser’s sending off for two yellow cards just before the break.
But they were hopeless from the off and, in the end, got everything they deserved.
The Toon have now scored just one goal in just shy of 10 hours and are dangerously close to being sucked into a relegation battle.
Bruce’s job has never been under any real scrutiny from owner Mike Ashley while they hovered safely above the bottom three.
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But without a win in 8 in all competitions, they are far from clear.
As bad as they were, Sheffield United were excellent and even notched their first clean sheet since July.
They squandered a whole host of good chances, and you started to wonder, if they could not beat this Newcastle team, whether they would find a single win all season.
Momentum can take a team a long way and, while they still have a mountain to climb nine points off safety, they are FINALLY up and running.
Newcastle’s line-up smacked of damage limitation, with Bruce going for five at the back against the lowest scorers in the country.
Passive and camped in their own half from the off, they allowed the basement boys the freedom of Bramall Lane.
And they were carved open down their right inside 12 minutes after some slick one-two passing but Karl Darlow got down smartly to deny David McGoldrick.
John Lundstram fizzed one wide moments later and the Blades flying.
VAR ruled that Newcastle’s Federico Fernandez handled in the area Credit: Sky Sports
Veteran Sharp sent the keeper the wrong way to claim the pointsCredit: Reuters
The visitors finally mustered a chance 28 minutes in, with Federico Fernandez whipping in an exquisite ball in from the right.
Callum Wilson is the one shining light in this pedestrian side, but the striker headed wide with the goal gaping.
Conversely, Sheffield United had enough chances to head into the break with the three points in the bag.
McGoldrick headed over from point-blank range, Burke was only denied by a heroic Fernandez block, and Jayden Bogle fired straight at Darlow.
Things could hardly get worse for Bruce.
But disaster struck when Fraser was sent off for two yellows in three minutes right at the end of the half.
Having been cautioned by ref Andy Madley for bringing down John Fleck, the Scot caught McGoldrick high and late moments later and was given his marching orders.
The game was there for the taking for Wilder’s side, who responded by swapping defender Chris Basham for striker Rhian Brewster.
Ryan Fraser was sent off for Toon moments before the break for a second yellowCredit: Sky Sports
The Blades are now nine points from safety after overcoming NewcastleCredit: Reuters
Bogle had the first opening in the 50th minute sneaking in at the back post but Darlow was quick to charge him down.
Bruce stuck with the same personnel, opting for a 4-4-1.
And despite his side being seemingly allergic to passing to each other or showing even a semblance of attacking intent, they are at least dogged.
With Wilson cut adrift on his own up top, it was all about digging out a point.
And they were holding on without much danger until VAR got involved to hand the hosts a penalty after 70 minutes.
Sub Sharp and Fernandez were tussling away as they both chased a ball over the top.
Madley waved away the initial shouts for a penalty but replays showed a slight touch off the Argentine’s left hand, which diverted it out of the Blades stalwart’s path.
And as soon as Madley went to view it on the monitor, there was only one outcome.
He pointed to the spot, leaving Sharp with the opportunity – and he made no miste, sending Darlow the other way for his second of the season.
They were not done though and had plenty of chances to bag a second, with Brewster firing wide before seeing a deflected effort rebound off the post.