Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones hailed "a big step" as the Black Cats beat Premier League relegation rivals Birmingham 2-0.
New signing Rade Prica marked his debut with a vital goal as Roy Keane's side lifted themselves out of the relegation zone.
The Sweden international struck 20 minutes after coming on as a half-time substitute to seal victory, and later had a second goal ruled out for handball before forcing an excellent save from Maik Taylor.
Daryl Murphy had fired the Black Cats into a 15th-minute lead as the home side deservedly took three priceless points.
Jones told Sky Sports 2: "I think today was a big step for us, we needed three points badly.
"Any team that comes to us at home, we definitely do well. It's about getting every point we can from now until the end of the season and hope for the best."
Goalscorer Prica said: "Of course, my first game and scoring, it can't be better.
"I saw it long before it was headed to the goalkeeper and it was a nice goal."
Asked whether his disallowed effort should have counted as his second goal, Prica said: "I think so. But the referee didn't think so. Maybe there was a little hand!"
Sunderland boss Roy Keane was delighted with the victory, saying: "What pleased me most was the fact we won the game tonight without playing particularly well. I'm sick of games when we've done really well and lost."
Keane was especially impressed by Jones once again. "He was massive again, with the important goals he's scored for us, defensively he's done very well for us, he's a real handful. You obviously saw that with the first goal," he said.
"He's been a major plus since he's come to the club, obviously I' been delighted with him."
Regarding Prica's goal, he said: "I thought it was a great finish. Obviously we're disappointed that the second one was dis-allowed - but obviously we got away with it tonight.
"He has done very well again, I was tempted to start him but we thought we would just give him a taster of watching from the side," he said, adding the injury to Dwight Yorke meant they were forced to change.
"I think that affected us, certainly the second-half because we didn't get any momentum going. I think we struggled in the second-half."
The result sees Sunderland climb to 14th in the Premier League and Keane said it was an important result.
He added: " I've been saying all week we can't look too far ahead, we're not strong enough or have a big enough squad to be getting carried away and looking at the next games."
He added his team had taken four points against the Blues.
"It is a big four points against one of the teams you are going to be down there battling with," he said.
Birmingham boss Alex McLeish was understandably unhappy with his side's performance.
He told Sky Sports 2: "Again we shot ourselves in the foot. The first goal, we know Kenwyne Jones can win a lot of balls in the air, he's such a great contender when you stick the high balls in. But the second ball, Murphy's not been picked up when there were plenty of bodies in there. That's disappointing because the first-half there was nothing in it and that's really put us on the back-foot.
"In the second half, losing the second goal because of a bit of indiscipline, trying to get the goal back we left ourselves very exposed. We were lucky we didn't lose by more.
"But well done to Sunderland on the night, away games are very difficult."
Asked if the first goal was a case of no-body making a decision or taking command, he said: "Yes, it was really because we did emphasis and we worked in training on the second ball.
"We knew that Kenwyne Jones would win his fair share, some you've just got to concede and say well 'I'll go for the second ball', make sure the second balls are covered and we didn't cover it."
When asked how important the next game was, he said: "It takes on greater significance, of course it does. But there's 14 games to go, that's 42 points and we've got to try and get as many as we can as quickly as we can."