Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray hailed a wonder strike by teenager Curtis Main which gave his side their first win in nine outings and moved them to within two points of a return to the top six.
The 19-year-old came off the bench to rifle home the vital goal at Derby County in the 80th minute to settle a game Mowbray knew Middlesbrough had to win.
Following defeat to Hull, Mowbray had made it clear his side needed a victory at Pride Park to boost their play-off hopes.
"I think the players knew the importance of the game after the frustration of Monday when we got our noses in front and then shot ourselves in the foot in a game that could have been over by half-time," Mowbray said.
"I think the message was almost it's last chance saloon and the big players needed to step forward and drag the rest along and they did just that.
"But we still have a job to do and we are still two points outside the play-offs. We have got two home games coming up and we've drawn too many games at home since the new year. We've got to sort that out over the next two games if we are going to make the play-offs."
Main's superb finish from Barry Robson's defence-splitting pass has given them hope and Mowbray said: "I am delighted for him, we needed a bit of quality, a bit of magic and it was a real clinical finish that won the game.
"We see that from him in training, he rarely mis-strikes a ball, he's like a golfer in that he makes clean contact and it flashed past the keeper before he's seen it. We hope he's got a big future in the game."
Derby peppered the visitors' goalmouth throughout the contest, with Paul Green perhaps coming closest for the home side and manager Nigel Clough admitted his team's lack of killer instinct ended their lingering play-off ambitions.
"We are disappointed with the build-up to the goal but it was a sublime, brilliant finish," Clough said.
"He did what we were crying out for our lads to do, put their head down, smash it and hit the target.
"We probably created the best situations and in the last game and a half, we could have scored eight or 10 goals. There was not an awful lot in it at all, just the finish, and we are very, very frustrated.
"It's just a lack of quality. The play is good enough up to a point but we need someone with the natural ability or desire to get us a goal."