Sunderland clambered off the bottom of the Premier League after Patrick van Aanholt's second-half goal secured what manager David Moyes described as a "massive" 1-0 victory over Watford at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
The Dutch defender finished off a rare move of quality four minutes after the break, poking a shot past keeper Heurelho Gomes after being found in the area by Jermain Defoe
The win moved Sunderland above Swansea City and Hull City, leaving them a point behind fourth from bottom Crystal Palace.
"I thought it was a massive win," said Moyes. "It was one of the games you look at and say, yeah we need to try and win it.
"It wasn't the prettiest but we have to try and grind out wins and some will be more ugly than I would like."
Sunderland grew in confidence after taking the lead and Victor Anichebe went close to doubling their lead with a piledriver that flew just wide.
"The second half we looked a bit more like it," said Moyes whose side travel to Manchester United on Boxing Day.
Troy Deeney wasted a chance to level for Watford but Sunderland held out for their third home win of the season.
Watford manager Walter Mazzarri was unhappy with his side's display as they lost for a fourth time in five matches.
"I'm very angry. We missed many chances in the first half and we gave them the goal easily," he said.
"Sometimes you make mistakes but it's only our fault. I've spoken with the guys, they know what they did, and we will have to sort it out."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Tony Jimenez)