Newcastle moved to within one point of Premier League safety with an impressive win over Champions League-chasing Leicester City.
Joe Willock put the visitors ahead with a cool finish after pouncing on an error from Foxes defender Caglar Soyuncu.
Paul Dummett doubled the Magpies’ lead, rising above Wesley Fofana to head past Kasper Schmeichel from Matt Ritchie’s corner, before Callum Wilson’s second-half double wrapped up the three points.
From 4-0 down, the hosts grabbed two goals inside the last 10 minutes through Marc Albrighton and Kelechi Iheanacho to give the Magpies a late scare.
The result moves Steve Bruce’s side up to 13th, 12 points ahead of 18th-placed Fulham who have four games left.
Leicester, in third, remain five points ahead of fifth-placed West Ham but have now played a game more.
“I have said quietly for weeks that we’d be OK when we got our big players back. My staff have worked tirelessly to make sure we got to this position,” Bruce said.
“We have turned it around at the right time. Normally [39 points] is enough. We are in the dizzying heights of 13th. We haven’t done it yet but we have made big strides in the last few weeks.”
Foxes fearing a repeat of last season
The evening started badly for Leicester when they were forced into a last-minute change minutes before kick-off, and things only went downhill from there.
Albrighton started in place of Jonny Evans, who limped down the tunnel after picking up an injury in the warm-up.
It was an uncharacteristically poor defensive display from a Foxes side who have spent the entire season so far inside the top four.
“Jonny Evans is the brain of our backline and when he came out of the team that was a big blow for us. However, we should still defend better,” said Rodgers.
Two goal-bound efforts from Federico Fernandez and Kelechi Iheanacho were saved by Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka in the early stages.
Dubravka was eventually beaten late in the second half, first by Albrighton’s impressive strike from the edge of the box, followed by a low effort into the bottom right corner from Iheanacho. However, by then the damage had been done.
Rodgers is seeking to avoid a repeat of 2019-20, when they missed out on a place in the Champions League on the final day having spent most of the season in the top four.
“We have made it a lot harder for ourselves but it is still in our hands. We have to fight and we are a group that is together,” he added.
Leicester have a tough conclusion to this season, visiting second-placed Manchester United on Tuesday and then travelling to fourth-placed Chelsea on 18 May, three days after facing them in the FA Cup final.
Their final Premier League game is at home to Tottenham, who are sixth, on 23 May.
Magpies on brink of fifth successive season in Premier League
Newcastle came flying out of the blocks at King Power Stadium, and made the most of the rejigged Foxes defence.
Their first real chance fell to Federico Fernandez, who came close with a glancing a header from Jonjo Shelvey’s free-kick. Shortly after, Allan Saint-Maximin was denied from 10 yards out by a brilliant sprawling stop from Kasper Schmeichel.
Leicester had been warned, and it didn’t take long for them to be punished. Soyuncu’s trickery backfired, when Arsenal loanee Willock, who missed the Magpies’ last game because of being ineligible to play against his parent club, chased down a mistimed turn from the Turkish defender, before keeping his cool and slotting past Schmeichel. He has now scored in four successive appearances.
Dummett’s first Premier League goal since January 2016 stretched Newcastle’s lead and Wilson put them out of sight, with two goals inside nine second-half minutes. A brilliant pass down the left from Matt Ritchie got the better of Timothy Castagne, leaving Wilson to stride forward and round Schmeichel for an easy finish. His second came back off the post from 10 yards out but he slotted in the rebound.