A record stadium crowd of 52,316 were treated to an incredible seven-goal thriller as Newcastle finally enjoyed a 4-3 win.
Ironically it came against Kevin Keegan's side. And, who will ever forget the look of sheer desperation on the face of Super Kev in 1996 when, as United boss, a 4-3 defeat at Liverpool all but ended Newcastle's Premiership title dream.
This was a throw back to the old Keegan days Â– end-to-end football and goals galore as Newcastle charged up the table into seventh position.
For the second time this season Newcastle squandered a two-goal lead in a stunning second half that also saw them go 3-2 up, before the majestic Shaun Wright-Phillips again levelled it up on the eve of his 23rd birthday.
But fittingly after a nightmare seven days, Craig Bellamy pounced on the stroke of full-time to volley the vital winner.
Keegan was furious with referee Steve Dunn about his handling of the classic encounter, while United boss Graeme Souness was delighted with a win that kept his proud unbeaten record intact.
Keegan blasted the official, commenting: "The referee was not strong enough and made too many mistakes that had a major impact on the game.
"I've been in the dressing room and told him so. He wants to sit down and take a look at the video and analyse it. He had one - a shocker "All my players to a man are livid with the referee, but I'll be their voice and get fined.
"Everybody has a bad day, but this is a hard enough place to come without that happening. But I'm not taking anything away from Newcastle.
"I had five great years here and I hope they can go on and achieve under Graeme what we failed to achieve - I've got no problems with that." Keegan added: "When Graeme Souness, one of the most volatile managers around, tells you 'I know how you feel but don't get into trouble' that says a lot." Incredibly after a fast and furious but goalless first half, there was little indication of the fireworks that were about to follow.
Alan Shearer planted an early header over the bar before the deadlock was broken on 49 minutes.
Laurent Robert had tried and failed in the first half, but this time from 25 yards curled his free-kick beyond the static David James.
Stephen Carr then charged through to go down under a James challenge and the referee pointed straight to the spot. James dived to his right, anticipating Shearer's favourite spot, only to see the ball flash into the other corner.
Game over? Of course not - after all this was Newcastle.
A static defence allowed Wright-Phillips to finish in some style after 64 minutes, when he burst through on the right, and two minutes later it was all-square.
Nicky Butt argued he won the ball in a challenge with half-time substitute Robbie Fowler, but was booked for his protests, while Fowler climbed to his feet and sent Given the wrong way from the spot.
The safe money was on a City winner against a jaded United, looking tired from their midweek European exploits in Greece.
But Robbie Elliott became the unlikely marksman as Newcastle went 3-2 up after 69 minutes. Again it was from a dead-ball situation, as Elliott bundled Robert's cross over the line. However, Shearer claimed the goal, which will now go in front of the dubious goals committee.
Surely this time United would not capitulate? Think again.
A Sylvain Distin long-throw after 77 minutes ran loose in the box and the livewire Wright-Phillips blasted beyond the unsighted Given to make it 3-3.
Even Keegan had feared the worst. "I'd said to the fourth official when it was 3-2 that we would get it back to 3-3 and they would probably get another." How right Keegan was. In the dying seconds Olivier Bernard battled his way down the left and crossed for Bellamy to control and volley across the dejected James to lift the roof after St James' Park There was just enough time for Souness to take off Bellamy to a standing ovation and send on Shola Ameobi.
Souness said: "Craig got all the headlines last week and made them again this week for all of the right reasons. I'm sure he and I will have our moments in the future. Craig wants to win all of the time and I want to work with people like that." While the United boss will be a bit concerned about defensives lapses, he said: "There's two ways to look at it and right now I just want to enjoy the win. I'll look at the video during the week but we must also give Wright-Phillips some credit." That's now an eight match unbeaten start for Souness, though he joked: "I went into the dressing room afterwards and had to remind those players that didn't already know that I have undergone open-heart surgery!" Patrick Kluivert is expected to be back for Wednesday's Carling Cup clash with second-bottom Norwich City at St James' Park.
"He's had a couple of wisdom teeth removed and lost a lot of his strength," said Souness. "But, he should be okay for Wednesday." However, there may be a question mark over Stephen Carr who suffered an injury to his right leg when winning the Newcastle penalty and was forced to limp off a couple of minutes later.