It was the perfect day for Sunderland and Jermain Defoe as they ended an eight-game winless run with a stunning 4-0 victory at Crystal Palace.
Hull’s shock win over Liverpool meant the Black Cats stayed at the bottom of the table, but Saturday’s Selhurst Park win transformed the relegation landscape.
The Black Cats are now just two points from safety, with a game against out-of-form Southampton at the Stadium of Light this coming weekend.
While the scale of the Eagles’ implosion was a surprise to 34-year-old striker Defoe, the three points was not.
Sunderland’s talisman put it down to a well-executed gameplan and positive signs on the training ground in midweek.
The two-goal frontman said: “I felt confident from the training session (on Friday) – it was sharp and I could tell that the lads were really on it.
“I think that was because of the result against Tottenham – we didn’t score, but the way that we defended and the character, we felt like we got the spirit back.
“Coming into the game, I felt confident, it was just a case of keeping clean sheets and giving ourselves a chance to win games, and we did it against Tottenham, an unbelievable team who are difficult to play against.
“I suppose if you can do that against the lesser teams then you always give yourself a chance to get points. But to score four goals in the first half (at Palace), it was a good feeling.
“Credit to the coaching staff as well.
“Tactically, I thought we got it spot on and it’s just down to the players to go and execute the game plan, which we did, to be disciplined.
“It was the perfect performance, I think, the perfect performance
“Clean sheet, score four goals, go home with three points. Brilliant.”
Defoe also revealed he played through a second-half illness to help bring the three points back to Wearside.
The striker, now on 15 Premier League goals for the season, couldn’t quite land a famous hat-trick, but that was perhaps due a tactical switch which saw him drop deeper towards his own half.
The Black Cats had to absorb a lot of pressure from Sam Allardyce’s Palace, but held firm for a clean sheet and three potentially crucial points.
Defoe admitted: “I wanted the three!
“To be honest, I felt a bit sick in the second half, my stomach and that, but obviously you don’t come off – I wanted to score three.
“Second half, I changed how I played a bit. I thought I’d come short instead of running in behind. The lads get a bit tired and if it doesn’t come through we’re losing the ball, so I just thought I’d come short and try and keep the ball, run the clock down.
“It was a nice game to play in, because we got the goals we could show the quality with the passing, the stuff we do in training.
“When you’re not winning games, sometimes it’s difficult for the lads to express themselves, so to score the goals and give us the chance to do that was really good.”