Carlos Carvalhal hailed his Sheffield Wednesday side as “absolutely fantastic” after stunning Championship leaders Newcastle United at St James’ Park.
The Magpies missed the chance to go four points clear at the top of the Sky Bet Championship as they slumped to their first league defeat against the Owls since 1998.
Captain Glenn Loovens’s second-half header separated the two sides as Carvalhal’s play-off chasing Wednesday picked up the points at St James’ Park.
Carvalhal hailed his side’s performance after a vital three points.
He said: “We played absolutely fantastic.
“We kept the ball well and were a threat to Newcastle’s goal all the time.
“We created clear chances to score, my players were fantastic and deserve the three points.
“I said before the game we are Sheffield Wednesday, we have a brand and we always fight for the three points.
“Newcastle’s best player was their goalkeeper. He made three or four fantastic saves.
“It was an important win. We deserved the win, playing against the strongest team in the competition.
“We prepared very well for the game, we have a way to play, we have big principles and are not an easy team to play against.
“We go step by step, game by game and let’s see what position we will achieve in May.”
Dwight Gayle, the league’s top scorer, saw Owls stopper Keiren Westwood tip his strike onto the crossbar early on.
Defender Ciaran Clark then headed off target twice from corners, with the first flying over the bar before the second went wide of the target.
Scottish striker Steven Fletcher forced Karl Darlow into a top stop to tip his thunderous shot over.
Moments after the restart Darlow had to make another stellar save to keep out Fletcher with his legs.
In the 53rd minute Wednesday grabbed the only goal of the game through Dutch defender Loovens, who netted his first Owls goal, as he nodded home the rebound from Fernando Forestieri’s initial header.
Wednesday looked content with a one-goal win as they kept men behind the ball after scoring and invited the hosts’ onslaught.
The visitors will finish the year in the play-off places after a fifth win in six.
“We didn’t handle the pressure well,” admitted Toon boss Rafael Benitez.
“You always have to be disappointed when you lose, especially in a game like this when you’re at the top against a good side.
“We had about three good chances before they scored their goal and we just didn’t take our chances.”
Benitez believes his side will have to stop being caught on the counter-attack, like they have been a few times this season.
He added: “Even after we conceded we gave them the chance to keep counter-attacking.
“This is something we have to improve on because we’ve had this problem in a couple of games.
“It’s been highlighted by a good team but it’s something we need to improve on.”