Victor Anichebe did not find the net, but boss David Moyes rated the in-form striker's display as key to Sunderland's critical win over Leicester City.
The 28-year-old was a dominant figure for the Black Cats in the 2-1 victory, which came courtesy of a 64th-minute Robert Huth OG and a clinical Jermain Defoe finish 13 minutes later.
Sub Shinji Okazaki's close-range 80th-minute goal gave the champions hope but Moyes's side held out, thanks in part to a stunning injury-time Jordan Pickford save.
Moyes paid tribute to Defoe for his eighth goal of the season - and his 19th in 2016 - but felt Anichebe was, again, magnificent for his side who moved off the bottom of the Premier League.
"Jermain was fantastic and because we have a striker of that quality, that calibre, it gives us a great chance," said Moyes.
"But it would be remiss of me not to mention Victor.
"The way he has performed he has allowed us to build up play through him and given us another option
"Victor was a bit unlucky not to score in the first half
"We needed Victor really to turn things in our favour in the second half when it just looked like it might be going away from us a bit.
"He does a really good job for us."
A bad knee injury to Duncan Watmore late on took some of the gloss off the victory.
But back-to-back home wins, and the third in the last four, has taken Sunderland to within a point of safety and only three off 14th place.
"I think it's a start," said Moyes.
"I hope we play an awful lot better than that in the future and hope we do better all round.
"What we've done of late is that we have defended a lot better and, more importantly, we've attacked much better.
"For most of the match I think we did that, we attacked well, especially in the early part of the game and we defended when we had to.
"If we can [continue to] do that then we'll be OK.
"We might never be top at either of them but we have to try to be the best we can at both of them."
It was crucial for the Black Cats to start the month with a victory and now they have further winnable pre-Christmas games with Swansea and Watford on the next two Saturdays.
"If we can win another three out of four we'll be in a really good position," added Moyes, whose team also have a midweek date with Chelsea, "We all know we've got a long way to go but we are moving in the right direction.
"You can only win the games put in front of you and we are winning them, at the moment."