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Jose Mourinho praised Newcastle for “fighting like animals” after they beat Manchester United 1-0 on Sunday.

Matt Ritchie scored the only goal after 65 minutes as the Magpies climbed out of the relegation zone with victory.

Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez spurned the best chances for Manchester United, who remain 16 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Mourinho told Sky Sports: “They fought like animals, that’s a good word in football, and I hope they understand it as a compliment. They have everything they had and then the gods of football were with them. But they fought like animals to have luck on their side.

“It wasn’t going to happen for us but also they gave what they have and what they don’t have, that’s a beautiful thing in football. They must have the best feeling of all, sometimes a better feeling than when you play fantastically well and you are better than the opponent.”

Newcastle’s goal came from a free-kick that was headed across goal and then laid off by Dwight Gayle for Ritchie to score his first of the season in the Premier League.

“We made a defensive mistake from the free-kick,” said Mourinho. “Then when they are in front they only had one thing in their mind. They gave their lives to keep a clean sheet.

“It was not just up to them, it was also the gods of football, but I repeat it’s a beautiful thing to win a match the way they did.”

Asked about the fitness of Paul Pogba, who appeared to tweak something during the pre-match warm-ups and was then taken off after 66 minutes, Mourinho said: “No problems.”

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