A BRILLIANT Yohan Cabaye free-kick in stoppage-time capped an impressive first victory of 2014 for Newcastle United.
The Magpies had looked like they had done just enough anyway to defeat West Ham United, but Cabaye's sublime second of the afternoon made sure.
A lovely opening goal from the excellent Frenchman inside quarter of an hour put Newcastle on their way at Upton Park.
Before his compatriot, Loic Remy, extended the Magpies' lead with a deserved second just after half an hour.
Both players had further chances in that half to make the gap wider, but West Ham pulled one back on the stroke of half-time when Mike Williamson could only help Carlton Cole force a loose ball over the line.
After that West Ham were the stronger team for the majority of the second half, but not even the introduction of Geordie striker Andy Carroll could deliver earn a point.
And seconds before the final whistle, Cabaye curled in a brilliant third to seal the three points for Newcastle in the capital.
The victory brought an end to Newcastle's four match losing streak and pushed Sam Allardyce's West Ham in to the Premier League's relegation zone.
After a bright start in which West Ham had threatened an early break through, Newcastle soon found their composure and Cabaye was particularly influential.
He picked the right passes and found little holes to exploit throughout the first half and could have scored more than his one goal.
Remy had already tested goalkeeper Adrian before Newcastle opened the scoring. After Matt Taylor had headed wide at the neat post at one end, the visitors broke down the other moments after.
Yoan Gouffran rolled a pass in to the feet of Cabaye. He took a touch on the edge of the area before side-footing a lovely finish to the left of Adrian.
After that Newcastle made numerous chances and could have added to the lead before they did in the 33rd minute.
When Vurnon Anita found Moussa Sissoko out wide there seemed little danger. But Matt Taylor somehow misjudged the flight of Sissoko's delivery to the back post. Remy chested down before poking a finish over the line.
At that point numerous disgruntled West Ham fans headed for the exits. The only surprise by half-time was that Newcastle's lead was not greater.
Every time West Ham got the ball, a black and white shirt soon got it back and there were cheeky chants of 'you're getting sacked in the morning' directed at ex-St James' Park boss Allardyce from the travelling supporters.
After that there were further chances for Cabaye and Remy as West Ham's defence looked in allsorts of trouble.
But just when it seemed Newcastle would reach half-time with a healthy lead, the home side got a freak break to make things interesting.
Razvan Rat's cross was not dealt with properly by Steven Taylor. Cole's initial effort was half stopped by Tim Krul, but the West Ham striker forced the ball over the line with help from Williamson.
After Remy had been denied again by Adrian shortly after the break, West Ham were lifted by the sight of Carroll warming up for the first time on the touchline.
And Cole should have levelled before Carroll came on. A lovely run and cross by Matthew Taylor was perfectly weighted in to the area. But Cole's sliding finish only ended with a slice wide with an outstretched leg.
Carroll almost arrived on time to convert a lovely cross from Stewart Downing immediately after coming on. Worse was to follow for him, though, when Carroll volleyed over from eight yards when another Downing cross created a glaring opening for him.
After that Newcastle gradually managed to retain possession better in the closing stages and grabbed a third when Cabaye struck again. The win extends the gap to ninth place Southampton to five points.
WEST HAM UNITED (4-2-3-1): Adrian; Rat,Collins, Johnson, Taylor; Diame (Carroll 60), Collison (Morrison 46); Jarvis (J Cole 72), Noble, Downing; C Cole. Subs (not used): Jaaskelainen (gk), Maiga, Diarra, Chambers.
NEWCASTLE UNITED (4-2-3-1): Krul; Yanga-Mbiwa, Williamson, Taylor, Santon (Dummett 73); Anita (Sh Ameobi 60), Tiote; Sissoko, Cabaye, Gouffran; Remy (Ben Arfa 77). Subs (not used): Cisse, Haidara, Elliot (gk), Obertan.