A sublime first half volley and a rebound finish in the 90th minute saw Derby County slip to a 2-0 defeat to title favourites Newcastle United at the iPro Stadium.
Yoan Gouffran, the Frenchman, struck midway through the first half, connecting sweetly with a Jonjo Shelvey corner to send an unstoppable shot beyond Scott Carson in the Derby goal to settle a tightly contested first half.
Having sat back comfortably defending their one goal lead and soaking up the Rams’ pressure, the visitors struck a decisive second on the cusp of added time through DeAndre Yedlin to seal all three points in front of the Sky Sports camera.
That aside, the display on a whole was more encouraging, particularly over the course of the first 45 minutes.
Sporting a brand new strike force leading the Derby attack, the hosts were quick out of trap – so much so that the home faithful thought that the deadlock had been broken in the opening minute.
Showing great determination to keep possession, James Wilson, making his full debut, poked the ball through to Johnny Russell in a central position. With time, the wideman played the ball into the path of Ikechi Anya, who was called offside as he squared the ball to Matěj Vydra to bundle into the back of the net.
A quieter spell ensued at the iPro Stadium as the visitors soaked up Derby’s ventures forward, before beginning to stamp their own authority on the contest.
The returning Dwight Gayle registered their first chance, sending a trickling shot just wide via a narrow deflection that had Carson half worried as he scuttled across his goal to see it wide.
The result was a corner and from that Newcastle scored. Jonjo Shelvey stood over the set play and delivered a wicked ball into the area that was met by Gouffran – sweetly on the volley – as he sent the ball into far corner of the goal.
That proved to be the last chance of the first half as the Rams probed to little avail and it wasn’t until the second half that the hosts began to seriously threaten the Newcastle goal again.
Pearson’s side went closest to making the breakthrough inside the opening minutes as Marcus Olsson twice went close.
The left back bent an arching effort agonisingly wide of Sels’ far post with his weaker right foot, whilst the 28-year-old former Blackburn Rovers man saw a looping effort meet the same fate.
Like the first half, chances continued to come at a premium in Derbyshire as the Rams were constantly met by a black and orange brick wall in front of Sels’ goal.
Shortly before the 70th minute, Craig Bryson was next to chance his arm, but saw his firm drive beaten away by the Newcastle’s Belgian shot stopper, whilst Nick Blackman, the substitute, saw a header easily gathered as the clock ticked down.
Bentiez’s men did not create a single chance in the second half until the 86th minute, an easy save for Carson as he got down to Mohamed Diamé’s strike after Newcastle had pinched back possession deep inside the Derby half.
Four minutes of added time were shown as the clock struck 90 and almost in that exact moment, Newcastle scored their decisive second as Yedlin, the substitute, bundled in Ayoze Perez’s cross to seal all three points.
Derby County: Carson, Christie, Keogh (C), Shackell (Bent, 88), Olsson; Russell, Bryson, Hughes, Anya (Ince, 78); Vydra, Wilson (Blackman, 65)
Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Johnson, Pearce, Butterfield
Newcastle United: Sels, Dummett, Colback, Lascelles (C), Anita, Gayle (Perez, 76), Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame (Hayden, 88), Mbemba, Gouffran (Yedlin, 72)
Substitutes not used: Clark, Lazaar, Darlow, Mitrovic
Attendance: 30,405 (3,177 Newcastle supporters)