Mark Hughes hailed the huge effort from players, staff and supporters that was rewarded with a critical victory at Swansea that leaves the club on the brink of securing Premier League survival.
Manolo Gabbiadini arrived as a 68th minute substitute for the stricken Jan Bednarek before popping up to score the only goal of the game four minutes later on a tension-filled evening in south Wales.
Saints went into the game above their hosts on goal difference, but Hughes admitted afterwards a draw was no good to his side, who are definitely safe barring a ten-goal swing on the final day of the season.
“It was a huge effort by everybody,” said the boss. “Anything else wouldn’t have been good enough – we needed to win.
“In the first half maybe we were taken aback a little bit because they went more direct than we anticipated, which just put us on the back foot somewhat.
“We made a couple of mistakes in terms of decisions and got caught out, but never really exposed Alex (McCarthy) to too many clear-cut chances.
“I thought our chances in the first half were more clear-cut, so I always felt we had a good foothold in the game.
“We just needed to win more challenges in the second half. To a man, that’s exactly what we did.”
In a twist of fate, Gabbiadini was only on the field because of a nasty head injury to Jan Bednarek, but Hughes revealed it would not have been long before the Italian was introduced anyway.
“I brought Longy on and then Jan got a bang on his head,” he added. “Probably within four or five minutes of that injury, I was going to make the change anyway if we weren’t winning the game.
“That forced my hand to a certain extent. When you make changes, you’ve got to ensure you don’t leave yourself exposed.
“In the end, I think they ran out of ideas with what they were trying to do. We grew in confidence, their confidence diminished and we saw the game out comfortably. It might not have felt like it, but we did!”