Nicolas Anelka's seventh goal of the season took Bolton into the Premiership's top four after a shaky start against Newcastle.
"We are reaping the result of having a goal scorer at long last," said his manager, Sam Allardyce, who spent a club record £8 million on the Frenchman. "He was in the right place for a tap-in. It was a goal scorer's goal."
Allardyce, who admitted for the first time that Bolton have given themselves "an outside chance" of Champions' League qualification, was also full of praise for El Hadji Diouf, who worked tirelessly to torment Newcastle.
"Diouf terrorised the opposition," he said. "He got some very heavy challenges indeed and was not protected enough for such a quality player."
Early on, Bolton did not look like a team with three wins and as many clean sheets behind them. James Milner had already put a free-kick just over their bar before the visitors took the lead in the eighth minute.
Newcastle's Pavel Srnicek made his return to the Premiership at the age of 38, which was the combined age of his two full-backs. One of them, Paul Huntington, put in the long-range header that led to the goal, although Kevin Davies made a hash of trying to glance it back, leaving Kieron Dyer clear to run and shoot past Jussi Jaaskelainen.
With Anelka operating as their main striker and Diouf and Davies alternating between attack and midfield, Wanderers seemed uncertain about their approach. There was also uncertainty at the back, as when Antoine Sibierski's pass came off Abdoulaye Faye to give Obafemi Martins a chance and when Milner eluded Nicky Hunt to force Jaaskelainen into making a smart save.
When the equaliser came, it was an even more clear-cut case of a self-inflicted wound than Newcastle's goal. Gary Speed's looping header seemed to pose no problems but communications between Srnicek and Peter Ramage broke down completely, and Ramage's attempt at a back header went straight into the net.
A vigorous debate about who was to blame ensued, with the suggestion that Ramage had been pushed in the back by Kevin Nolan. "You can't expect the referee to see everything," said a philosophical Newcastle manager, Glenn Roeder.
From that point onwards, Wanderers discovered the secret of making Newcastle sweat - by attacking them down the flanks through Anelka and Diouf.
They produced a series of telling crosses that threatened a defence marshalled unconvincingly by Srnicek, although the second goal came by a more familiar Bolton route.
Ivan Campo's long throw was nodded on by Davies and Anelka appeared at the far post to finish the job. Newcastle came close to an equaliser through Emre's long-range shot and one from Scott Parker that was saved by Jaaskelainen.
"The two goals we conceded were, by our standards lately, shockers," said Roeder. "Srnicek hardly had anything else to do."
Goals: Dyer (8) 0-1; Ramage (32, og) 1-1; Anelka (57) 1-2.
Bolton Wanderers (4-1-3-2): Jaaskelainen; Hunt, Faye, Meite, Ben-Haim; Campo; Nolan, Speed, Diouf (Pedersen, 90); Davies, Anelka. Substitutes not used: Al Habsi (gk), Gardner, Vaz Te, Tal.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Srnicek; Edgar, Taylor, Ramage, Huntington; Parker, Butt, Milner (Rossi, 65), Dyer (Emre, 55); Sibierski, Martins. Substitutes not used: Krul (gk), Luque, Pattison.
Booked: Bolton Davies, Diouf, Campo; Newcastle Butt, Huntington, Rossi.
Referee: H Webb (Yorkshire).
Man of the match: Diouf.
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