The defeat left Leicester clinging to the coat tails of the Premiership while Newcastle grasped at the Champions League by moving into the top four on goal difference. Yet the Magpies could not tighten their grip by scoring more and, at the end, their former hero Les Ferdinand bulleted a trademark header to bring the scoreline back into the bounds of respectability.
Newcastle never looked in any danger but they never looked fluid or inventive enough to humble visitors who had conceded 18 times in their last five outings. For the first 30 minutes, Leicester were a decent match. After last weekend's five-goal thrashing by Aston Villa, they reshaped: Andy Impey recalled, Gerry Taggart retrieved from Stoke, Steffen Freund resurrected from an unhappy spell at Kaiserslautern and Paul Dickov revived, arm in a cast, to niggle the Newcastle back line.
It worked in as much as the home side's zippy young legs were denied space to run into and an annoyed and mouthy Dickovcareered about until, in the 75th minute, he was booked for being a general nuisance.
"There is no disgrace in what we did today and how we lost today, " said the Leicester manager Micky Adams. "I accept and understand the reasons we lose games in the Premiership, particularly at places like this.''
Kieron Dyer turned the game with a 29th-minute turn and clever shot that Ian Walker tipped away. The Magpies, grounded by Leicester's stubbornness, were aroused and a minute later in the lead. Shay Given's long kick was flicked by Alan Shearer off Impey's head and into the path of Shola Ameobi. With the slightest touch off Taggart's thigh, he drilled it into the bottom corner.
Ten minutes before half-time, Newcastle reinforced their lead when Shearer threw himself at Olivier Bernard's cross. He missed, but caused so much confusion that Taggart shanked the ball against the underside of the bar. Walker caught it but it was clearly over the line and the goal was awarded - Dickov, naturally, disagreeing longest.
Leicester had a brief flurry after half-time but 13 minutes into the second half Hugo Viana flicked the ball towards Shearer who hooked it back into the middle where Jermaine Jenas, ever-present this season alongside Gary Speed who was making a record 400th Premiership appearance, had the simplest of headers to score.
Newcastle were unable to push on and the game fizzled out, although there was still time for Ferdinand's late consolation for Leicester.
"We could have gone on and scored a fourth and the way it is with Liverpool, goal difference could be worth a point at the end of the season,'' said Newcastle manager Bobby Robson.
Newcastle United 3
Ameobi 30, Taggart og 37, Jenas 59
Leicester City 1
Half-time: 2-0 Attendance: 52,125