Villa into bottom three; QPR hold Man City; Wigan grab point
Newcastle eased their relegation worries and increased Aston Villa's woes as QPR picked up an important point which could further dent Manchester City's Premier League title bid.
Wigan showed impressive fighting spirit to come back from 2-0 down to draw with Stoke at the Britannia Stadium, while Sunderland and Swansea played out a goalless stalemate at the Stadium of Light.
Newcastle opened up a four-point cushion over the relegation places with a crucial 2-1 victory away to Aston Villa to add to the ever-growing pressure on Paul Lambert's shoulders, with the Midlands club having now slipped into the bottom three.
Alan Pardew's men took the lead with 19 minutes gone as a superb pass from new signing Moussa Sissoko cut open the Villa defence and allowed Papiss Cisse time to control and beat Brad Guzan.
It was 2-0 just after the half-hour thanks to a simply stunning finish from Yohan Cabaye, with the Frenchman controlling Ron Vlaar's headed clearance just outside the area before firing into the top corner of the net with his second touch beyond Guzan's despairing dive.
The hosts were handed a lifeline early in the second half as Christian Benteke converted from the penalty spot after Mathieu Debuchy was very harshly penalised for tangling with substitute Gabriel Agbonlahor, but despite an improved showing they could not find an equaliser.
City held at QPR
Queens Park Rangers remain bottom of the Premier League despite taking an important point from their home meeting with reigning champions Manchester City, who could now fall seven adrift of Manchester United as the leaders prepare to face Southampton on Wednesday.
Much of the focus was on one man who was not even present at Loftus Road, with City striker Mario Balotelli expected to complete his move to AC Milan in the coming hours.
The Rs were indebted to another excellent display from goalkeeper Julio Cesar, with the former Inter man denying Gareth Barry in the first half and then David Silva from close range in the closing stages.
Franco di Santo and James McArthur rescued a precious point for Wigan in their Premier League relegation battle as they hit back from 2-0 down away to Stoke to draw 2-2.
Stoke were gifted the opener in comical fashion when Charlie Adam's poor free-kick was headed into the back of James McCarthy by Jean Beausejour, with the ball falling kindly to Ryan Shawcross to hook home from close range in the 23rd minute.
The Potters doubled their lead early in the second half as Adam was allowed to advance unchecked towards the Wigan box before firing in a shot which Ali Al-Habsi could only parry into the path of Peter Crouch to slot home.
But the Latics responded immediately as Roger Espinoza fed McArthur with a clever pass and the midfielder produced a sublime finish with the outside of his boot, before the Honduras international's cross was headed back across goal by McArthur for Di Santo to fire home.
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill was only able to take a quick look at reported transfer target Danny Graham during the 0-0 draw with Swansea at the Stadium of Light.
The Swans striker, who has been linked with a move away from the Liberty Stadium this month, came on for the final 15 minutes of an uninspiring encounter in the North East, but could not break the deadlock despite a glorious late chance as he was denied by Titus Bramble's last-ditch challenge.