“The most important thing in the end was not to win 3- or 4-0 or play wonderful, but was to win – it doesn’t matter how,” Mourinho said.
Later, Liverpool maintained their eight-point lead by beating Crystal Palace 2-1 for their 12th win in 13 matches this campaign.
Like many times this season, the victory was sealed in the final minutes with Roberto Firmino grabbing the winner in the 85th minute.
“When you finish the game on the up it’s OK,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said after his side were pushed Selhurt Park.
“It was a tough job to do today but in the end I’m happy with the result because I know it’s not possible to be brilliant every day.”
Manchester City came from behind to keep themselves within nine points of Liverpool with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Chelsea in Saturday’s late match.
All the goals in an open contest at the Etihad Stadium came in the first half as the champions responded to N’Golo Kante’s early strike with goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez.
Raheem Sterling thought he had added a late third for City but his injury-time strike was ruled out for offside in a very tight VAR call.
City spurned a number of chances to kill off the game in the second half but the Londoners could not get back into the game and were leapfrogged in the table by the hosts, who moved third.
Leicester stayed second after a 2-0 win at Brighton, with Jamie Vardy scoring for the fifth straight league game.
Vardy netted with a retaken penalty because of encroachment by home players, firing the ball past Socceroos keeper Mat Ryan to bring Brighton’s streak of three successive home victories to an end.
Arsenal dropped further off the top-four pace after a 2-2 draw against Southampton, with boos ringing around the Emirates stadium despite Alexandre Lacazette’s 96th-minute goal – his second equaliser of the game.
That result will pile more pressure on manager Unai Emery, who said: “I can understand how the supporters feel about the team and about me.
“I can only say to them I’m going to work hard for a good performance and to show we can be better.”
In other results, Wolverhampton Wanderers beat 10-man Bournemouth 2-1 and Burnley won 3-0 at Watford, who returned to the bottom of the table.
Champions Manchester City hosts Chelsea in the late game between the teams in fourth and third place, respectively.