Roy Hodgson hailed Erik Nevland as a 'vitally important' player after the striker scored the opening goal in Fulham's 3-0 win over Blackburn Rovers.
The Norwegian was given a rare start on Wednesday night as he partnered Bobby Zamora in attack in the absence of injured duo Andy Johnson and Diomansy Kamara.
Nevland rewarded Hodgson's faith by breaking the deadlock two minutes before half-time, with Clint Dempsey netting twice in the second period to secure the points.
Since joining Fulham almost two years ago, Nevland has largely been used as an impact player from the bench and his importance to the team has been praised by his manager.
"At the moment he is not a back-up because we've got serious problems as one of our strikers has been operated on and is out for two or three weeks, and another one has been out now for almost two months," Hodgson told Sky Sports.
"Erik Nevland is becoming vitally important, but I must say he has been vitally important for us during the two years I've been at the club.
"He's got that ability to score very important goals and there's no doubt today the goal, which came against the run of play as they were more in our half than we were in their half, really set us up on the road to victory."
The result lifts the Cottagers into the top half of the table and Hodgson was pleased with the manner in which his team dealt with Blackburn's direct approach.
He added: "It was fairly difficult to come to terms with the number of times the ball was in the air and the amount of heading duels the back players had to deal with, and they did it very well.
"They pushed up well after the long ball forward, but they didn't, fortunately for us, create any real goalscoring chances from it and we were fortunate enough to score with a good move, but with our first real dominant attack of the game.
"In the second half we did a little bit better and in the end ran out easy winners. But when I say easy winners, the scoreline shows us easy winners, but we know it was nothing like an easy victory, it was a very, very tough victory.
"It's one I'm very proud of because we had to stand up to a barrage of long balls and challenges to deal with, which we did, and then we had to try and make certain on the odd occasions we could get the ball down on to the floor to play we did that.
"I thought that's what gave us the victory in the end."