Adam Le Fondre came off the bench to dump Newcastle deep into relegation trouble as Reading staged another famous fightback in a 2-1 win.
The substitute struck twice inside six second-half minutes as the Magpies imploded having dominated the opening 45 minutes. Alan Pardew's men would have been out of sight by half-time had it not been for the heroics of keeper Adam Federici, but led only 1-0 courtesy of the returning Yohan Cabaye's superb 35th-minute free-kick.
But they wilted alarmingly after the break to lose a game they simply had to win in front of a disgruntled crowd of 49,411. The Royals left Tyneside having boosted their own survival hopes while significantly denting those of their hosts.
Cabaye's return from a groin injury re-invigorated Newcastle, and it was from his fourth-minute free-kick that they might have taken the lead when the ball fell to the feet of Mike Williamson 12 yards out. However, the central defender slipped as he tried to steer the ball home.
Federici came to the rescue on the half-hour when Papiss Cisse ran on to home debutant Mathieu Debuchy's perfectly-weighted cross and powered it towards goal, only to see the Royals last line of defence hold firm once again.
But the deadlock was broken 10 minutes before half time in glorious fashion after Sylvain Marveaux had been tripped 20 yards out by Jobi McAnuff. Cabaye stepped up to curl the resulting free-kick over the wall and into the top corner with Federici for once rooted to the spot.
After the break, the home side struggled to rediscover the fluency of their first-half performance, and that encouraged the Royals, who were taking a much more positive approach.
Pardew moved to close the game down when he replaced Marveaux with the more defensively-minded James Perch after 65 minutes, but the ploy did not work and Reading forced their way back into the game with 19 minutes remaining.
Jimmy Kebe was allowed time and space down the right and when Williamson failed to cut out his cross, Le Fondre bundled the ball over the line.
There was worse to come from the home side six minutes later when they failed to deal with a ball into the box and Le Fondre pounced to thump it past the helpless Tim Krul.