Alan Pardew hailed Crystal Palace’s matchwinner Jason Puncheon as the midfielder struck the only goal against Norwich City.
Palace’s long wait for a win in 2016 was finally ended at Selhurst Park as Puncheon fired home after 68 minutes, his fine long-range strike too good for John Ruddy.
Victory halts Palace’s alarming slide towards the relegation zone, the win giving them a 10-point cushion to the bottom three.
“During the run-in two years ago he got some crucial goals,” said Pardew. “He’s a massive individual for this football club. It was fitting he got the crucial goal and I’m absolutely delighted he got it.
“We were together at Southampton and his rapid rise to the top of the game has been a delight for me to watch.
“He has got our most important goal of the season today and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.”
Pardew has now set his sights on climbing back up the table before Palace’s FA Cup semi-final with Watford on April 24.
He added: “We need to look up. Mid-table is only three or four points away, that’s the next target.
“This season could still pan out as a very good season. I think mid-table’s about right for us. And we’re in the FA Cup.
“It was a massive win for us on a number of levels. It might settle us down and we’ll start to play football again.
“Hopefully we’ll be guaranteed safety by the time we play the semi-final, then we can get our party frocks on and enjoy that.”
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