Callum Wilson scored his 50th and 51st Premier League goals as Newcastle ended their dreadful run with a well-deserved 2-0 win at Everton on Saturday.
Those goals took him to double figures for the season and ended a run of nine league matches without a win, stretching back to December 12, while also securing a first success at Goodison Park since 2010.
It was the Magpies’s first league double over the Toffees since the late Sir Bobby Robson was in charge in the 2001-02 season and lifted them further clear of the bottom three.
Bruce set up his side to be resilient and combative in the first instance but, as they grew into the game and discovered their hosts to be well below their best, they sensed their chance.
With Wilson a constant threat – he had Newcastle’s only three shots on target with his first brilliantly tipped onto the crossbar – it was no less than the visitors deserved.
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti had said the midweek game against Leicester and this one would determine how their season would pan out and, on that basis, one point from both games would suggest disappointment.
The first half was attritional, hardly unsurprising from a side in Newcastle’s form, but not without its chances as Yerry Mina twice headed over early on as James Rodriguez’s delivery caused problems.
Goalkeeper Karl Darlow looked less than convincing at that point, punching a Lucas Digne cross behind, but he settled and stood tall to parry a Richarlison effort and blocked Rodriguez’s shot with his chest after a smart knockdown and backheel from Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Rodriguez was in the thick of the action everywhere as Newcastle did not hold back on their challenges with Jonjo Shelvey booked for his second infringement on the Colombia international having initially got away with dragging his opponent to the floor by his neck.
The constant chipping away at his heels possibly got to him when he lost possession to Jamaal Lascelles on the edge of the Everton penalty area but the midfielder scuffed his shot.
Jordan Pickford, whose error handed Leicester an equaliser in midweek but was retained by Ancelotti, produced the best save of the game to divert Wilson’s flicked header onto the crossbar as the visitors began to generate some momentum before half-time.
Wilson should have done better when he swept Ryan Fraser’s pass just past the far post from a counter-attack not long after the restart, with Newcastle captain Lascelles departing with an injury immediately afterwards.
The substitution which Newcastle hoped would change things up came in the 66th minute when Allan Saint-Maximin replaced Fraser.
Ancelotti had already made his tactical change by bringing on Andre Gomes for Alex Iwobi and playing him and Abdoulaye Doucoure as the more advanced midfielders either side of the deep-lying Gylfi Sigurdsson.
But with the focus turned more in favour of attack Everton, who left Cenk Tosun, Bernard, and goalkeeper Jonas Lossl on the bench as they look to offload the trio, forgot their defensive principles.
Wilson was allowed to lose his marker at a Shelvey corner and flick a near-post header across Pickford and inside the far upright.
The striker was then denied by the post after rounding Pickford late on but made no mistake when the visitors countered quickly in added time, firing a low shot past the England number one.