By Dan King
Fittingly, in a week where England lost out on the right to host the 2018 World Cup finals, a Russian was the main protagonist in Newcastle's second successive away defeat.
Peter Odemwingie scored twice in the second half as United's December got off to a disappointing start. Somen Tchoyi had scored the opener, rendering Peter Lovenkrands' late goal a mere consolation.
The Magpies fell well short of their best against a Baggies side who played some smart football on a pitch that held up remarkably well considering the recent snowy weather.
It was an unchanged side from the one which drew with champions Chelsea the previous weekend, with Joey Barton not travelling despite his three-game suspension coming to an end due to a training ground knock. Sol Campbell made his 500th Premier League appearance.
But from the start, the home side looked the more confident outfit as they dominated possession. And it was the livewire Odemwingie who had the game's first real chance, charging down Campbell's clearance and bursting through, but dragging his shot wide of the far post.
United countered with a corner from Danny Guthrie, which was headed on by Campbell and Andy Carroll's attempted overhead kick fell for Steven Taylor - only for the defender to fail to get the required connection on his acrobatic effort. Another Guthrie corner was then headed off target by Shola Ameobi.
But West Brom went ahead on 32 minutes, with a goal due to a moment of quality and poor defending in equal measure. Newcastle had opportunities to get the ball away well before it dropped to Cameroonian winger Tchoyi, who drifted inside and curled a wonderful effort past the helpless Krul. There were suggestions that Odemwingie was standing in an offside position and interfering with play, but there were no particularly strong appeals from the visitors.
Tchoyi, an ungainly yet effective wideman, came close to scoring a second soon afterwards, but was denied by the strong hands of Krul, who was playing at the ground where he made his league debut for United in August 2009.
And United started the second half strongly, forcing a corner in the opening seconds and then, a few minutes later, forcing a great reaction save from Scott Carson. Guthrie's free-kick was crossed back in by Wayne Routledge and Taylor met it with a powerful header which the Cumbria-born keeper did well to parry.
Then Gutierrez saw a scuffed effort cleared off the line following a strong run, with Carroll lashing the loose ball over the top.
Another bit of pacy play from Gutierrez saw Carson just flap the ball away from the onrushing Lovenkrands and United now looked capable of forcing an equaliser - although Krul was called into action to make a smart save from Darlington-born James Morrison.
Morrison saw two more efforts skid wide before a calamitous goal made it 2-0. Guthrie picked up the ball in the centre circle and went to pass it, only to slip and land badly. With the midfielder lying prone on the ground, and with the defence exposed, Odemwingie was able to scamper through and slot past Krul.
Immediately, Alan Smith was introduced for the injured Guthrie, who was stretchered off, while Nile Ranger replaced Routledge.
And United could have got a foothold back into the game when Carroll flicked on for Lovenkrands, only for the Dane to miskick in front of goal.
West Brom continued to pour men forward, rather than simply aiming to preserve their margin, and Chris Brunt tricked his way into the box and shot across goal, with Krul - one of the few players to emerge with credit - making another good save to push it away.
However, the Magpies keeper could do nothing to prevent a third Baggies goal as he was left out to dry by the Newcastle defence. They were hopelessly caught out by a routine long ball and Odemwingie was able to sprint clear and round Krul before sliding the ball into the empty net.
Some consolation came in the shape of Lovenkrands' injury time goal, forced home after Carroll was denied from point-blank range, but Newcastle were left feeling as blue as their change kit.