However, Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson were sent off late in the first half before Loic Remy netted a leveller on the stroke of half-time.
The two red cards swung the game in the favour of the Magpies, who used the extra numbers to their advantage by scoring four goals in the second half, prompting critical words from a despondent Hughes.
"We're dumbstruck by the performance of the referee, unfortunately,â he told Sky Sports.
"People say he's one of the best referees in the league, and he's performed worse than the standard required today."
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