Sam Allardyce has heaped praise on Jermain Defoe after his double helped secure a vital 3-1 win over Aston Villa.
Sunderland came out on top of the relegation 'six-pointer' at the Stadium of Light, thanks to Defoe's second-half brace.
The Black Cats, now four points off safety, took the lead through Patrick van Aanholt before being pegged back by Charles Gil's stunning strike.
Defoe proved the difference though with two vital goals.
A 'relieved' Allardyce said: "We held our nerve well today, the nervous tension was obviously something we were going to feel.
"Scoring the first goal was very important, it gave us the platform.
"Even though we had a little setback when they scored we got better as the second half got on, some of our passing was a little eratic in the first half.
"And when you need someone to turn the game for you, we have that in Jermain.
"Terrific to put is 2-1 up and settled the nerves late on. He was inches away from a hat-trick.
"He is fit as a fiddle, I must admit.
"Jermain doesn't look too fatigued. He is very experienced and uses his energy very well and conserves it for the right times.
"He is economical and as the second half wore on we got more and more service to him.
"Perhaps we can play him up front on his own, if the man behind gets involved more, like Adam did with more support from out wide.
"He produced two goals playing by himself up front.
"Those goal were massive after the setback.
"We didn't gift it to them but made it very easy for them, a very good finish though to be fair.
"We took control and held our nerve and played our way back in."
Victory over the Villians ended a five-match losing streak for Sunderland.
Asked to sum up the situation facing Sunderland, Allardyce added: "The situation is still dire though.
"We are a long way off getting safe and we are still a relegation-threatened side.
"This has given us a lift but we must go a run of games were we are undefeated. Try and get draws and pick the odd win up.
"We can't afford to lose four or five on the trot.
"We need to push on."