Xherdan Shaqiri’s free-kick was headed home by substitute Divock Origi with just four minutes to play at St James’ Park to seal a crucial 3-2 win for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Van Dijk had earlier headed Liverpool in front from a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner but Christian Atsu levelled for the home side.
Mohamed Salah then stroked in another Alexander-Arnold cross before Salomon Rondon equalised once more.
When Liverpool were awarded a free-kick in the dying moments, the entire stadium expected Alexander-Arnold to step up to take it to try and add to his two assists.
However, Shaqiri took over set-piece duties ahead of the right-back and they were rewarded with a goal that keeps Liverpool in the hunt for their first league title since 1990.
And eagle-eyed fans spotted an intervention by Van Dijk that might well be his best decision of what has been an incredible season for the inspirational centre-back.
Alexander-Arnold put the ball down from the right and set up to whip in another out-swinging cross.
Liverpool players line up in the Newcastle penalty area to receive the free-kick but Van dijk then appeared to raise his hand to instruct Shaqiri to take an in-swinger instead.
The Dutchman’s decision paid the ultimate dividend as they grabbed a late winner – and fans took to social media to praise him for his involvement.
“Virgil van Dijk is a certified legend now,” one said on Twitter.
“Asked Shaqiri to take that free kick instead of Alexander-Arnold. He has a crystal ball.”
Another agreed: “Van Dijk pulled rank to get Shaqiri on the freekick and it paid off.
“What a man! The one and only captain of Liverpool football club.”
A third added: “Van Dijk ordering Trent that Shaqiri should take the free kick.
“He takes it and provides us the winning goal. One of our best decisions made all season, my leader, my CB.”
Another said: “Virgil Van Dijk forcing Shaqiri to take that free kick.
“The game sense this guy has, reading every player on the pitch, it’s just brilliant.”