Sam Allardyce hailed a "massive" three points in the battle for survival after Sunderland triumphed at fellow strugglers Swansea.
Sunderland moved to within one point of the safety mark after a 4-2 victory at the Liberty Stadium, as they registered a second successive Premier League victory over one of their relegation rivals.
The game was a topsy-turvy one, with referee Graham Scott and his officials awarding Swansea a bizarre penalty, harshly sending off right-back Kyle Naughton and failing to spot offside calls for Jermain Defoe's first two goals.
But Defoe's hat-trick helped Sunderland to a hugely significant win, as they built on their crucial victory over basement boys Aston Villa.
Sunderland boss Allardyce said: "It panned out pretty unusual, to say the least, from what we probably expected.
"But the most important thing for us is the victory, having slipped up in the first 10 minutes to not get an even bigger lead which looked like it was going to bite us in the back-side.
"We managed to overcome that by adjusting our tactics at half-time having allowed Swansea to get in the lead, even with 10 men.
"The second half performance was exactly what we needed - a high press, closing down Swansea and forcing them into mistakes.
"The fact that we've got the little man up front at the moment, whose in terrific goal-scoring form has ended up winning us in the game.
"He's scored a hat-trick after two in the last game and converted most of the chances we created for him.
"He's a massive player for us at the moment and the rest of the players provided that service for him.
"Irrespective of some of the referee's decisions, we've gone and won away from home in an enormous game for both of us.
"We've gained three points on everybody above us, which is massive for us."