The club beat West Ham United 1-0 in Shanghai thanks to a goal from Yoshinori Muto to finish third in the Premier League Asia Trophy.
New head coach Bruce, watching from the stands because of a visa technicality, handed 19-year-old striker Elias Sorensen his full United debut and set out his team in a 3-5-2 formation at the Hongkou Football Stadium, where the team was backed by several hundred fans.
And he saw a much-improved performance from Newcastle, beaten 4-0 by Wolverhampton Wanderers in midweek. Jonjo Shelvey, in particular, caught the eye in midfield after committing his future to the club.
Sorensen missed a glorious chance early in the game. Shelvey played a superb ball out to Isaac Hayden on the right, and Sorensen put the midfielder’s low cross over the bar.
There was a “we want Ashey out” chant from Newcastle fans during the first break for water at the stadium, where the temperature was a sweltering 32 degrees at kick-off time.
United dominated the ball in the first half and deservedly took the lead in the 34th minute thanks to Muto, who beat Lukasz Fabianski with a first-time finish from a Jamie Sterry cross.
There were four changes at the break – Ki Sung-yueng, Federico Fernandez, Javier Manquillo and Jacob Murphy were sent on – and West Ham tried to get back into the game early in the second. Substitute Jack Wilshere probed away in midfield, but Newcastle, however, defended robustly.
Murphy delivered a ball across the face of goal at the other end of the pitch, but there was no one to get on the end of it.
Sean Longstaff made his comeback from injury in the 64th minute, and the midfielder had a 74th-minute strike ruled out for offside.
Newcastle saw the game out to get their first pre-season win under their belts.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka; Schar, Lascelles, Clark (Fernandez, 46); Sterry (Manquillo, 46), Colback (Lazaar, 74), Hayden (Ki, 46), Shelvey (M Longstaff, 78), Ritchie (S Longstaff, 64); Muto (Aarons, 78), Sorensen (Murphy, 46). Subs: Woodman, Darlow, Bailey, Watts, Allan.