Kieran Trippier's second free-kick goal in as many games was enough for Newcastle United to secure a third straight Premier League victory – seeing off Aston Villa in front of a sold out St James' Park crowd.
In the 31st minute, The Magpies were awarded a penalty after Calum Chambers fouled Joe Willock, but VAR overruled the decision after a lengthy check and instead awarded a free-kick right on the edge of the area.
Trippier made no mistake with his free-kick, and with the aid of a deflection off Emiliano Buendia, found the back of the net, beating a wrong-footed Emiliano Martinez.
On the cusp of the hour mark, Villa thought they had equalised when Ollie Watkins headed home from close range, but a tight offside call went against him with VAR ruling the goal out – meaning Steven Gerrard's side left Tyneside empty-handed.
Story of the game
The first 20 minutes were like a finely poised chess match, with neither side keen to give anything away in the early stages.
You could see early on that Aston Villa posed a threat down the left-hand side through Lucas Digne – who turned Newcastle down to join Villa last month – and Phillippe Coutinho, but it was nothing that The Magpies couldn't cope with, a testament to their improved defensive work in recent week.
Howe's men were first to the punch throughout the opening 45 minutes, and they finally got their first real chance midway through the first half, but Joe Willock's first-time effort sailed over the crossbar.
St James' Park erupted on 31 minutes when referee Craig Pawson awarded Newcastle a penalty when Chambers stuck his leg out and brought down Willock.
However, after a lengthy four-minute long VAR check, they deemed the foul was just outside the penalty area.
Anticipation built around the stadium when Kieran Trippier placed the ball down to take the free-kick, and he made no mistake with his effort, giving The Magpies the lead with his shot taking a deflection off Emiliano Buendia before finding the back of the net.
Newcastle pushed for the second goal before the interval, with Wood once again having a good chance, but he could not find the target with his effort from 20-yards out.
Hearts were in mouths when John McGinn took aim outside of the box strike deep into first half stoppage time, but his deflected shot whistled past the post to safety.
Magpies hang for second victory in a week
Two minutes into the second half and the man of the moment Trippier was forced off after his left foot was stamped on – something which if serious, could be a catastrophic blow to the remaining part of Newcastle's season.
Emil Krafth came on in his place, and it seem to bring a quiet-so-far Coutinho into life. The Brazilian drove at the Swede before playing a cross-field pass to Matty Cash, who took aim, but his sweeping strike was nowhere near from threatening Martin Dubravka.
Despite losing their captain, Newcastle continued to be the better side in this tie, and came close to doubling their lead.
A Magpies corner spilled out to Jonjo Shelvey on the edge of the area, he played it wide to Allan Saint-Maximin who cut in on his right and got a shot off, and luckily for Emiliano Martinez, it went just wide of the post.
VAR denied Aston Villa of an equaliser on 61 minutes as Ollie Watkins headed in a deflected cross from the left-hand side – but the England international was judged to have been in an offside position, albeit an extremely narrow one on review.
After play was stopped for around five minutes due to an incident in the Gallowgate End, Villa pushed hard for the equaliser, but it came to no avail as Newcastle hung on for a monumental three points.
Newcastle: Dubravka; Trippier, Schar, Burn, Manquillo; Shelvey, Willock, Joelinton; Fraser, Wood, Saint-Maximin. (4-3-3)
Aston Villa: Martinez; Cash, Chambers, Mings, Digne; McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Ramsey, Buendia, Watkins, Coutinho. (4-3-3)