Rafael Benitez praised the character and determination of his Newcastle side as they guaranteed top spot at Christmas in the Sky Bet Championship with a 2-1 victory at Burton.
Dwight Gayle gave the Magpies the lead after quarter of an hour with a deft near-post finish, and Newcastle also found a response after experienced winger Lloyd Dyer finished an excellent Burton move to equalise five minutes later.
Mo Diame came up with what proved to be the winner when he fired home from just inside the box after 34 minutes.
Albion pressed in the second half and were unfortunate to finish the game with nothing to show for their efforts, which was largely due to a big defensive display from Benitez's men.
"We said before that it could be difficult and it was so I think we did well," said the Newcastle boss. "We controlled the first half and were working so hard in the second half to defend and do well.
"I was pleased with the attitude, the teamwork and the character that we showed but I also congratulate them (Burton) because they were pushing us under massive pressure.
"We are top of the table, doing well and winning lots of games and we have had fantastic games and then we have games where we have to show, as we did today, lots of character. I think we are finding the balance between playing nice football and having to work hard for the three points."